’Cats topple Chiefs on senior night

Fort Payne’s Will Green, right, tackles North Jackson’s Diego Holt at Wildcat Stadium on Friday.

Alex McPherson kicked four field goals, including one from a state record 61 yards, and Jake Barnes threw two touchdown passes to Ricky Adame as Fort Payne dispatched North Jackson 32-7 at Wildcat Stadium on Friday night.

Fort Payne (6-4) picked up the win in its regular-season finale, which also served as senior night.

McPherson launched a successful 61-yard field goal with 4 minutes left in regulation for the game’s final tally and a new state record, according to the AHSAA’s account of individual football records on the organization’s website. The previous record for the state’s longest field goal kick from snap to hold was set by his older brother and current Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (60 yards set against Brewer in 2017).

Fort Payne scored on its first possession of the third quarter. Barnes rolled left and hit Adame with a pass. Adame picked up a block from teammate Marcus Ledford and motored ahead in the open field for a 58-yard score. The ensuing 2-point conversion attempt failed and the score remained 26-0.

North Jackson (5-5) responded with its only score at the 4:28 mark of the third. On a fourth-and-5 play, Dalton Morris kept the ball and ran to the left side, picking up the necessary blocks to travel for a 58-yard touchdown.

Hayden Hairel’s second interception of the night led to a 39-yard field goal by McPherson early in the fourth, making it 29-7.

McPherson booted a 52-yard field goal through the uprights as the first half expired to give the Wildcats a 20-0 advantage. He added a 55-yard field goal at the 9:57 mark of the second quarter that put Fort Payne ahead 17-0.

After the Chiefs forced a punt on Fort Payne’s opening possession, Barnes hooked up with Adame on the first snap of the Wildcats’ next series for a 55-yard touchdown. Barnes found Adame sprinting ahead of his defender in a 1-on-1 situation and Adame hauled in the pass, running free for the game’s first score midway through the period.

Again, Fort Payne used one play to travel 56 yards for a score with 4:47 remaining in the first quarter.

Kaden Dubose received the handoff from Barnes and cut up the middle, finding an opening and racing past North Jackson’s defense for the touchdown.

Fort Payne’s defense stymied the Chiefs throughout the half. The visitors punted on their first six possessions and didn’t cross midfield with an offensive possession until the 4:17 mark of the second quarter.

Morris rushed for a 2-yard gain up the middle on a third-and-1 play, reaching Fort Payne’s 49 yard line for a first down.

Fort Payne opens postseason play next Friday, traveling to Briarwood Christian.

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