Montevallo wins shootout over Shelby County

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

MONTEVALLO – In a game featuring 106 combined points, it was the Montevallo Bulldogs who made one more play to pick up a 56-50 victory over the visiting Shelby County Wildcats on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The Bulldogs got three touchdowns from receiver J.J. Evans and running back Deon Gilliland, while receiver Jamarius Carter added one touchdown and quarterback Malik Inabinette threw for four touchdowns and ran for another to total five in the game.

It was a big bounce back for Montevallo, who dropped last week’s opener to Marbury.

“It started this week at practice,” Wilcox said. “It started on Sunday when they came in. They showed up focused and had a great week of practice. Today, pre game, they were locked in and it carried over. This team is starting to learn when you’re locked in and focused, you give yourself a chance to win on Friday night. I’m so proud of them finding a way to win tonight against a really good 5A football team.”

Trailing 21-20 at the half, the turning point in the game came on the first two drives of the second half.

It started on offense with a quick 16-yard touchdown run from Gilliland that was set up by a 34-yard pass to Kial Cottingham and a 28-yard pass to Carter.

That put the Bulldogs on top 28-21 following a 2-point conversion with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter.

On Shelby County’s ensuing drive, it looked as if James Oliver had scored a touchdown, but a holding penalty negated the 20-yard run.

Two plays later, the Wildcats fumbled and Montevallo recovered.

With neither defense able to stop the other’s offense, that became one of the biggest plays of the game.

Montevallo quickly took advantage in three plays, highlighted by a 44-yard touchdown catch from Evans. Following another 2-point conversion, the Bulldogs had all of a sudden opened up a 36-21 lead with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.

From that point forward, it was a back-and-forth affair, but the Wildcats were never able to regain the lead despite pulling back to within six points in the final minute.

Following that touchdown, the Wildcats put together a 13-play drive to answer, which was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run from Raheem Montgomery, who had a special night.

That was then followed by another quick touchdown from the Bulldogs as Inabinette took a 35-yard touchdown run around the right end and up the sideline before diving for the pylon from 5 yards out. That put Montevallo back up 44-29 with 10:57 to play.

The Wildcats came right back with another easy 10-play drive that saw Montgomery punch in another short touchdown to cut the deficit to 44-35.

Montevallo continued the back-and-forth with a six-play drive that took less than two minutes thanks to a 28-yard pass to Carter and two combined runs of 26 yards from Gilliland. The drive was capped off by an 11-yard jet sweep to Evans for a 50-35 lead with 5:35 to play.

Shelby County, needing big plays in the clutch, stepped up with a quick eight-play drive that took just 2:05 off the clock. The drive saw a 37-yard pass from Chase Holliman to Oliver, a 13-yard run from Holliman on fourth down and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Holliman to Tyrese Goodman.

Now down by just seven points at 50-43, the Wildcats needed a big stop with 3:30 to play.

Instead, Gilliland scored his third and final touchdown on a 35-yard touchdown run to put Montevallo back up by two scores at 56-43 with 1:51 to play.

The Wildcats answered again thanks to an Oliver 29-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds to play to cut the deficit to six points at 56-50.

With the onside kick now determining Shelby County’s fate, the ball bounced through one Montevallo player’s hands but went straight to Carter who fell on it to preserve the win. 

Gilliland finished with 252 rushing yards on just 14 carries, while Inabinette posted 270 passing yards and 57 rushing yards. 

Evans finished his impressive night with six catches for 118 yards, including jet sweeps, while Carter added four receptions for 108 yards. Cottingham added 55 receiving yards on six receptions.

“We had some guys step up today in Kial Cottingham and Jamarius Carter,” Wilcox said. “We know when JJ shows up to play, he gives us a chance to do some really good things, but when we get everybody pitching in, we’re a different team.”

A big reason for that impressive offensive showing was the offensive line, which struggled in the opener.

“The biggest thing I saw tonight was our offensive line stepped up and played their butts off and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Wilcox exclaimed. 

The start of the game was a bit sloppier offensively than the exciting fireworks we saw in the second half.

It started with Shelby County being penalized four times on its opening drive and Montevallo go three-and-out.

But then the Bulldogs got the spark offensively they had been searching for early in the season thanks to an explosive play from Gilliland.

He found an open spot in the line, hit the hole and was gone for an 86-yard touchdown run with no defender able to come close to matching his speed. Following a successful 2-point conversion attempt on a pass from Inabinette to Carter, Montevallo led 8-0 with 3:29 to play in the opening quarter.

Looking for an answer, the Wildcats stepped back on the field looking to put seven penalties on their first two drives behind them.

Thanks to a dominant run game featuring a 12-yard run from Oliver, a 24-yard run from Goodman and an 11-yard run from Jordan Garcia, Shelby County marched right down the field and capped the 10-play, 70-yard drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run from Montgomery.

The Wildcats then added the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8 after a drive of 3:05.

On the ensuing Montevallo drive, Shelby County got a big break with an interception from Kaden Cardwell.

The Wildcats took over at their own 32-yard line, but took advantage of a tired Bulldogs’ defense that had just gotten off the field. In six plays, Shelby County went 68 yards thanks to a 24-yard run from Landen Stewart and two combined runs of 21 yards for Goodman, before Stewart capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats on top 15-8 with 8:20 left in the first half.

Now that the pressure had been lifted and both teams had gotten an offensive rhythm, the fireworks started.

Montevallo came right back with a quick three-play touchdown drive to answer. Following an 11-yard run from Gilliland, Evans made his presence known for the first time.

On a designed quick pass from Inabinette, Evans came back to the ball on the move toward the middle of the field and got a nice block from a teammate to open up the field. He then cut back to the outside to take the ball up the sideline, before making two incredible jukes that sent defenders flying to take the ball 51 yards to the house for the touchdown, which brought the Bulldogs to within a point at 15-14.

Each team added one more touchdown to close out the half. The Wildcats used a typical time-consuming 13-play drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run from Holliman, while Montevallo had a typical quick three-play drive highlighted by a 50-yard touchdown pass to Carter who went up to rip the ball down before taking it the rest of the way to create the halftime score of 21-20 in favor of Shelby County.

That shootout carried into the second half, but the holding penalty by the Wildcats made the difference ahead of that fumble.

For Shelby County, Montgomery had three touchdowns, while Holliman added one rushing and one passing touchdown. Goodman, Oliver and Stewart each added one touchdown apiece.

Montevallo (1-1) will stay home to take on Dallas County on Friday, Sept. 6, while Shelby County (0-2) will travel to Chilton County.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.