Wildcats rally past Blue Devils for non-region win

Fort Payne's Hayden Presley (77) and Skyler Hilyer (84) tackle Etowah's Trace Thompson during a non-region contest at Jim Glover Field in Attalla on Friday night.

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.

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