Anderson, Cottingham lead Montevallo’s comeback to clinch a playoff spot
By CAYDEN STURGES | Special to the Reporter
MONTEVALLO – “Maximize the Moment” That’s what a local pastor, Mike Jones, told the Montevallo Bulldog football team during a team dinner only 24 hours before they took the field against Dallas County with the chance to clinch a playoff berth.
And the Bulldogs did just that. Despite falling behind 14-0 to Dallas County at the half with a playoff spot on the line, the Bulldogs didn’t panic and outscored the Hornets 27-6 the rest of the way.
When the teams started play, Dallas County received the opening kickoff and was able to hold onto the football for more than seven minutes of game time.
The Hornets ran the ball between the tackles for most of their yardage, but Dallas County mixed it up with sweeps around the right side to keep the Bulldog defenders honest. Despite holding onto the ball for more than half of the first quarter, Dallas County came up empty on its opening drive when Montevallo recovered a fumble on the first passing play of the game.
After swapping short scoreless drives, Dallas County took over on their own 24-yard line.
When the Hornets’ offense got back on the field, they wasted no time attacking a tired Bulldog defense that was on the field a large portion of the first half.
And the Hornets capitalized with a 35-yard touchdown from Marquavious Pullom followed by a 2-point conversion for an 8-0 Dallas County lead.
Montevallo once again went three-and-out, and the defense came right back on the field.
Dallas County again took advantage and put together a strong of solid plays, including a 20-yard touchdown run from Markeice Stallworth to make it 14-0 at the break.
But coming out of the locker room, Boren made changes. Down by 14, he reiterated what Mike Jones told the team on Thursday night.
“The bottom line is that at the half, we were down 14-0,” Boren said. “We just talked about how we had 24 minutes left to go out there and create a legacy about a quality football team with quality football players that people didn’t really feel like you could do.””
The entire Montevallo team responded to the halftime adjustments. The offense, which had only achieved one first down in the first half, came alive in the second half.
The Bulldogs drove down to the Hornets’ 2-yard line before being stopped by the Dallas County defense on fourth down. This was no problem, however, as the Bulldogs’ defense held Dallas County in place before forcing a punt.
Since the punter didn’t have as much room as normal, the Bulldogs brought the house to block the punt. The added pressure got to the punter, and forced him to throw the ball away to avoid the block. The ball fell incomplete, and Montevallo’s offense was in business on Dallas County’s 9-yard line.
The next play, Jay Dreyer found Kial Cottingham in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. On the extra point attempt, two consecutive Hornet penalties moved the ball to the 1-yard line. Taking a chance, Boren sent his offense onto the field to go for two. Joseph Anderson took the ball up the middle and was untouched on his way into the end zone.
Dallas County was well on its way to responding to the touchdown when Cottingham made another amazing play for the Bulldogs. Playing one-on-one coverage, he chased his receiver into the end zone before turning his body toward the football that was already halfway toward him. In a showcase of sheer athleticism, Cottingham seemed to levitate over his receiver before coming down with the football.
While this interception didn’t lead to points, it gave Montevallo momentum to keep fighting. After Anderson punted the ball down to the Hornets 5-yard line, Montevallo’s defense came up big once again.
This time in zone coverage, Cottingham snagged an errant pass that was caused by tremendous pressure from the Bulldog defensive line.
Cottingham was pushed out of bounds at the 5-yard line, but it was more than close enough to let Anderson walk into the end zone to give Montevallo a 15-14 lead after the extra point.
Dallas County didn’t stop fighting, however, and got back in the score column with a touchdown answer to make it 20-15.
On the ensuing kickoff, it first appeared as if Anderson misplayed the bouncing ball after letting it get behind him and had to double back to pick the ball up at the 3-yard line. But he then made several defenders miss before finally being brought down by the kicker well into Hornet territory.
Boren once again reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a fake reverse pass. Thanks to a blitz from the Dallas County defense and an outstanding diving grab from Orlandis Weeks, Montevallo had the ball on the Hornet 22-yard line.
Cottingham once again came up with a huge play when he caught a screen pass with two defenders in front of him. He cut toward the sideline to make the first hornet miss, but was caught by the second defender with 5 yards between he and the goal line. Cottingham dragged the tackler 4 yards before diving and knocking over the pylon to give his team the lead, 21-20.
On the ensuing kickoff, Gio Hernadez didn’t mean to kick a perfect onside kick, but that is exactly what he did.
The kick was just supposed to limit a return from the Hornets by going to a blocker in the second layer of the return team. Instead, the ball was on a much lower trajectory and hit the ground about a yard in front of the blocker’s feet. While the blocker attempted to catch the ball on the first hop, the ball surprisingly took a large bounce directly into the hands of a Bulldog defender.
Anderson was able to take in another touchdown run, but this was just to give Montevallo some insurance. While the extra point was missed, Montevallo’s defense stepped up once again to force a turnover on downs and cement a 27-20 victory for the Bulldogs.
“I was told by several coaches that Montevallo couldn’t win more than two games this year. We had 13 players show up for the meeting at the beginning of the year. We recruited the halls well, but a lot of these kids have never played football before. We have a great coaching staff, and players who have bought into the program. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished this year.”
Cottingham had three interceptions defensively and 41 yards receiving with two touchdowns offensively. Anderson finished with 87 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
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