Courtesy of The Cullman Times
Cullman secured a playoff spot last Friday (Oct. 20) with a 42-40 Class 6A, Region 7 win over Southside.
The visiting Bearcats (5-3, 3-2 in) had to survive two attempts at onside kicks in the final stages after the Panthers (2-6, 1-4) scored a late touchdown.
Cullman had to overcome two-touchdown deficits on multiple occasions to get the win. After Southside scored on all five of its possessions in the first half, the Panthers punted the first three times they had the ball in the second half. Southside led 34-21 at halftime.
Fletcher Jennings threw two touchdown passes apiece to Reese Harbison and Carson Freeman and went over 300 yards passing on the night.
A 70-yard touchdown connection from Jennings to Harbison at the 10:05 mark of the third quarter pulled Cullman within a score. The Bearcats took the lead on Jennings’ 84-yard touchdown pass to Freeman, and Jennings added another score in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run to make it 42-34.
But with 2:55 to go in the game, Southside got the ball at its own 40 with a chance to knot the score. A halfback pass back to quarterback Gavin Griffith got the Panthers to the Cullman 30, and a few plays later, Griffith threw an 11-yard touchdown pass on a jump ball to pull the Panthers within two points. Cullman’s defense stood tall on the conversion attempt, however, turning Southside away to force the onside kicks.
Cullman got on the board first on its opening possession with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jennings to Harbison.
But then Kenneth Bothwell went to work. The Panthers’ junior running back scored his first of four first-half touchdowns with an 80-yard scoring sprint on the Panthers’ first play of the game. Bothwell added a 15-yard score later in the first quarter before Tyler Abernathy made it a 21-7 lead for Southside on a 1-yard dive.
Cullman responded with a touchdown strike from Jennings to Freeman from midfield at the 9:34 mark of the second quarter, but Bothwell returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for another Southside score.
Cullman made it 28-21 midway through the second quarter on a 1-yard plunge from Jayden Sullins. The sophomore scored after setting up the Bearcats offense inside the red zone with a 58-yard catch and run from Jennings.
Southside made what would be the halftime score at 34-21 with less than a minute to go on Bothwell’s 6-yard run.
But Cullman took command of the game with the three straight touchdowns to open the second half.
Southside closes out region play this Friday (Oct. 27) at Albertville.