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Win over Cleveland puts Falkville back in the playoffs

By Staff
Tim Sharp, Enquirer Correspondent
CLEVELAND — The Falkville Blue Devils (5-4) will advance to the state playoffs for the second straight season after a thrilling 20-12 road win over region foe Cleveland Friday night.
Both teams exchanged punts and turnovers early before Falkville began the scoring late in the first quarter. Shane Ellis rushed from 8 yards out for a touchdown to complete an eight-play, 35-yard drive for the Devils. The extra point attempt by Nathan Riggins was blocked and the Devils led 6-0.
Neither team was able to sustain a drive for the remainder of the half. Cleveland’s strongest threat came in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Following a Falkville fumble deep in their own territory, the Panthers moved to a fourth-and-6 in the red zone. An interception by Jonathon McNatt in the end zone ended the scoring attempt and gave the Devils a touchback.
Falkville held Cleveland without a first down on its first two possessions of the third quarter. A short punt gave the Devils the ball near midfield to begin their second drive of the half. Ellis carried six times for 20 yards before Dustin Jump scored a touchdown from 4 yards out to cap the drive. McNatt rushed for the two-point conversion to extend Falkville’s lead to 14-0.
Cleveland responded to the score in only 1 minute and 24 seconds on its next possession. Highlighted by an 18-yard reception and a 34-yard run, the drive culminated when Brandon Robertson scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak. The extra point failed and the score stood at 14-6.
Maintaining the momentum, Cleveland recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Taking only 2 minutes and 12 seconds off the clock, the Panthers moved 48 yards in six plays. Robertson finished the drive with a 6-yard run for Cleveland’s second touchdown in just over three and one half minutes. A two-point conversion try failed and the score was 14-12.
The Panthers appeared to hold the Devils without a first down on the next drive. Facing a fourth-and-5, Falkville was in punt formation when a high snap forced Brandon Clark to move to his left to avoid onrushing defenders. With open field in front of him, Clark sprinted for 16 yards and a Devil first down.
Determined running by Ellis and Jump on the next six plays moved Falkville to a second-and-goal on the 3-yard line. After a penalty and two incompletions, McNatt completed a touchdown pass to Steven Lindsey in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal. The extra point failed and the Falkville lead stood at 20-12.
The Panthers responded with a furious last-ditch effort. Moving 57 yards in 11 plays, Cleveland’s comeback hopes were ended when Lindsey stepped in front of a Robertson pass and streaked up the sideline deep into Panther territory. Falkville was able to run out the clock and secure the win from there.
Ellis led the Devils with 75 rushing yards on 19 carries. Brandon Clark added 56 yards on four carries and Steven Lindsey had two receptions for 17 yards and a touchdown.
The Blue Devils finished 4-3 in Region 5 play and will face Addison (8-1) in the first round of the playoffs. Their regular season finale is at home this week against Priceville (5-4).

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