By Lionel Green/Special to The Messenger
Another classic battle between Class 5A, Region 7 powers Guntersville and Etowah was again decided by an unsuccessful two-point conversion in the waning minutes of the game.
And for the second year in a row, it was third-ranked Guntersville who left the field with a one-point victory last Friday (Oct. 2).
The Wildcats snapped Etowah’s three-game winning streak and edged the Blue Devils, 21-20, GHS.
With 9:36 left in the game, Jordan Bentley broke a 14-14 tie with a 3-yard touchdown run. Wolls Jocleyn’s third of three successful point-after kicks gave the Wildcats (6-0, 4-0) a 21-14 lead.
Etowah (3-3, 3-1) responded with an 11-play, 62-yard drive capped by Stacy Williams’ 2-yard touchdown run to pull the Blue Devils within one point with 4:16 remaining.
Etowah opted to go for the two-point conversion. Quarterback Andy Noles rolled right but his pass was incomplete, leaving the score 21-20.
On its final drive, Guntersville rushed for four first downs to drain the clock and secure the win.
“We’re two really evenly matched teams,” said Guntersville head coach Lance Reese. “Both teams gave great effort. (Etowah) Coach (Drew) Noles and his staff do a good job. It was great competition on both sides.”
After a scoreless opening stanza, the Blue Devils scored first on a 7-yard touchdown by Williams, which capped a 15-play drive that lasted more than eight minutes. An incomplete pass on the two-point conversion left Etowah up 6-0 with 11:09 remaining in the second quarter.
The Wildcats responded with a lengthy 11-play scoring drive of their own that took more than five minutes off the clock.
Quarterback Major Henderson scrambled and hit Pierre Henderson on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 5:39 left in the first half. Jocelyn’s extra point sent Guntersville into halftime up 7-6.
The Blue Devils reclaimed the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Paul Ruiz. A two-point conversion pass from Kaleb Nelms to Williams put Etowah up 14-7 with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Once again, the Wildcats responded with a scoring drive. Bentley returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Blue Devil 34. His 1-yard touchdown run capped the short drive to knot the game up at 14-14 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
That set the stage for the epic final period.
Williams led all rushers with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Ruiz added 49 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushes.
Noles was 5-of-6 in passing for 37 yards.
Bentley rushed 29 times for 147 yards, including 121 yards and his two touchdowns in the second half.
Etowah hosts A.P. Brewer on Friday (Oct. 2) in a non-region game.