Jake Barnes threw three touchdown passes and Alex McPherson kicked two field goals as the Fort Payne Wildcats rallied from a first-quarter deficit to topple the Etowah Blue Devils 33-27 at Jim Glover Field in Attalla on Friday night.
Fort Payne (2-3) notched its second win of the season in the non-region contest, as Etowah dropped to 3-2.
Out of a 23-17 Fort Payne halftime lead, a field goal pulled the Blue Devils within three, before the Wildcats widened the margin to 10.
A long kick return by Connor Cash set up Fort Payne at the Etowah 33.
Barnes connected with Marcus Ledford for a 20-yard pickup, and Alex Akins ran for a 9-yard gain before Bennett Blanks rushed for a 4-yard score midway through the quarter.
Andrew Pierce hauled in a 26-yard reception to give the Blue Devils a first-and-goal at the Fort Payne 6.
Thompson took a direct snap in for a 4-yard score with 9 seconds left in the third to bring the Blue Devils within 30-27.
Midway through the final period, Fort Payne’s defense shut down the Blue Devils on a fourth-down conversion try, leading to a second McPherson field goal.
Etowah’s defense pushed Fort Payne backward and McPherson kicked a 48-yard field goal to extend the lead to 33-27 with 3:10 left in regulation.
Fort Payne scored 23 consecutive points in the first half, rallying from a 17-point deficit to lead at intermission.
Barnes threw three touchdown passes and McPherson added a field goal during the Wildcats’ rally.
Barnes connected with Cash on a third-and-long play, and Cash outran Etowah’s defense for a 72-yard catch and run touchdown, closing the gap to 17-7 with 3:10 remaining in the opening quarter.
Fort Payne’s special teams defense blocked a punt early in the second period, giving the Wildcats a short field at Etowah’s 28.
Fort Payne capitalized, as Barnes found Sawyer Burt open across the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike, making it 17-13.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, Barnes hooked up with Ledford across the middle for a 24-yard go-ahead score with 6:34 to play in the half.
McPherson kicked a 39-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils took command on their opening drive, capped by a Thompson-to-Jarvis Hardwick 65-yard catch and run score.
Etowah gained a safety when Fort Payne snapped the ball out of the back of the end zone on an attempted punt to extend the lead to 9-0.
Thompson hit Pierce for a 17-yard scoring connection, and a 2-point conversion run made it 17-0 with 4:42 to play in the opening period.
Fort Payne hosts rival Scottsboro in a Class 6A, Region 7 matchup at 7 p.m. next Friday.