SCOTTSBORO — J.D. Blalock threw for 254 yards and two scores, Cam Thomas had 169 yards receiving and two scores and Fort Payne’s defense used a goal-line stand to beat rival Scottsboro 41-34 and retain the TopCat Trophy at Trammell Stadium on Friday night.
Hunter Love rushed for 79 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats of Fort Payne improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in Class 6A Region 7 after shutting down Scottsboro’s last-minute drive.
Scottsboro (2-4, 1-3) trailed by as many as 17 points but tied the game at 34 midway through the fourth quarter.
Love gave Fort Payne the lead for good with a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:40 remaining in regulation, and the defense stopped Scottsboro short of the goal line as time expired to hold on for the win.
The Wildcats of Scottsboro scored twice in the third quarter to narrow the scoring gap to 31-26. They scored at the 8:02 mark and again with 51 seconds remaining in the period. An attempted 2-point conversion failed following their second score.
Fort Payne drove deep into Scottsboro territory with 10:38 left in regulation. Blalock threw to Sawyer Burt in the end zone on third down, but the pass was broken up and the team settled for an Alex McPherson field goal to extend the lead to 34-26.
Scottsboro answered with a 2-yard scoring run to tie things at 34 with 5:35 to play.
Fort Payne overcame a slow start by finding success on long plays to take a 31-14 halftime advantage.
Blalock unloaded a deep pass to Thomas along the right sideline for a 36-yard score with a minute to play in the opening quarter, putting Fort Payne in front 10-7.
Fort Payne struck again quickly after recovering an onside kick at Scottsboro’s 45-yard line.
Blalock hit Thomas for a 25-yard gain before Love plunged for a 1-yard scoring run to extend the lead to 17-7 with 10:40 left in the half.
Love capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive with another 1-yard touchdown run in Fort Payne’s next possession, making it 24-7 midway through the period.
Scottsboro gained some momentum before the half when quarterback Jacob Manning kept the team’s drive alive in a third-down situation with 4 minutes left.
Manning found B.J. Harris for a 12-yard gain and first-down yardage before connecting with Malik Willis on a deep pass for a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 2:34 remaining in the half.
Manning’s scoring pass came before taking bruising hits by a pair of Fort Payne defenders.
Blalock hooked up with Thomas again before halftime for another long scoring connection with 1:57 left in the half.
Thomas reeled in the pass before taking off along the right sideline, shaking free from a defender and racing ahead for the score.
Fort Payne continues region play Friday, hosting Southside-Gadsden at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.