In rivalry games, anything can happen as the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats (3-7, 1-6)  illustrated tonight when they stunned the Northridge Jaguars (7-3, 4-2) 27-26. 

After miscues and turnovers in the first half by Northridge, Tuscaloosa County led by as much as two touchdowns heading into the half. Northridge would open up the third quarter with two quick scoring drives to take the lead, but a missed two-point conversion late in the fourth would seal the win for Tuscaloosa County. 

“We finished tonight,” Tuscaloosa County Head Coach Jason Todd said. “There were opportunities for us to not finish, lay down, and let the adversity over come us, but we we able to overcome it and find a way to win.”

The star of the night was Wildcats running back and Troy commit Damien Taylor, who provided all four of Tuscaloosa county’s touchdowns with the run game while racking up 207 yards rushing and averaging just over six yards a carry. 

Taylor opened up the scoring in the game on an 8-yard rushing touchdown after the Wildcats recovered a muffed Northridge punt deep in their own territory. A bad two point conversion made it 6-0.

The score would remain the same into the second quarter, when Northridge quarterback Kollyn Shellnut took it in himself from 15 yards out to make it 7-6 Jaguars. 

The Wildcats responded quickly, covering 75 yards in just over two and a half minutes of play, and capitalizing on Taylor’s 2nd touchdown of the night from three yards out. A stalled Northridge drive gave the ball back to the Wildcats, who methodically drove the length of the field again, gashing the Jaguars on the ground and granting Taylor his third touchdown of the half. 

The score heading into half was 19-7, however the Jaguars gained some momentum before hitting the locker rooms after picking off Wildcats quarterback Brax Garrison and seeing a punishing 20-yard LiEric Street run.  

Street picked up right where he left off in the second half, as Northridge fed him the ball to open the first drive of the third quarter. 10 plays later, and Street was in the endzone on an 11-yard run dragging multiple defenders with him. A huge momentum swing occurred when the following kickoff was muffed by Tuscaloosa County, and the Jaguars recovered the fumble at the wildcats’ 24 yard-line. 

Four plays later and Northridge had the lead, thanks to another touchdown run from Street, who would finish the game with 78 yards and two touchdowns. 

Drives back and forth led to no points for either squads, until a Shellnut interception in double coverage led to an 80 yard drive of nothing but running back pitches to Taylor, and Northridge had no answer for it. 

Taylor’s fourth score made it  27-20, and Northridge began a methodical drive that went 57 yards and took just under three minutes off the clock, capped with a Christopher Jack 12 yard rushing touchdown. An offside penalty pushed the point after attempt to the 1, and tempted Northridge Head Coach Mike Vickery just enough to put a potential lead in the hands of his running backs. With the game on the line, the Wildcats stopped Northridge from one yard out, and ran the clock out the rest of the way to take the game, 27-26. 

“If we have a yard and a half to go to win the football game, we take that,” Vickery said. “our strength on their strength, And they got the stop. I’m proud of our kids and their effort in the second half, we now need to focus on the first round of playoffs.” 

Northridge now moves on to face the Saraland Spartans (8-2, 6-1) in the first round of the 6A playoffs. Tuscaloosa County’s 2020 season is now over.

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