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The streak is over.
Hoover couldn’t stay out of its own way with penalties and turnovers, falling 20-13 to the archrival Vestavia Hills Rebels in a Class 7A, Region 3 game Friday night on Buddy Anderson Field at Thompson Reynolds Stadium.
The Bucs saw their seven-game winning streak against the Rebels snapped in the 50th meeting between the two schools. Hoover leads the series 30-20.
Hoover was whistled for numerous illegal procedure penalties and several other infractions, finishing with 17 penalties for 141 yards. A holding penalty nullified what would have been a go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.
The Bucs also turned the ball over twice, including an interception that led to the Rebels’ first score.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett said. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting us ready to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
“We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves, but give Vestavia credit. They had a good game plan and stuck to it. They made the plays they had to make and we didn’t.”
Still the teams were locked in a 13-13 tie until Rebels senior running back Walker Minor scored the winning touchdown on a 15-yard run around right end with 2:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I had a seam when I got the ball and I saw it was wide open,” Minor said. “I don’t think anybody touched me until I got to the end zone.”
The victory wasn’t sealed until Bucs reserve quarterback Garrett Farquhar’s desperation pass from the Vestavia 43-yard line fell incomplete at the goal line on the final play of the game, sending the Rebels into a frenzy of elation.
“I can’t explain it,” said Minor, who rushed for 99 yards on 29 carries. “We haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here.”
The outcome left both teams with 6-2 overall records and 4-2 marks in the region. Both teams clinched a playoff berth because of Spain Park’s 20-10 victory over Oak Mountain.
Vestavia plays its final region game next week at Tuscaloosa County while Hoover plays host to Hewitt-Trussville.
The Rebels and Bucs battled to a 10-10 halftime tie. Vestavia broke the tie on Curry Howard’s 20-yard field goal on the Rebels’ first possession of the second half.
Hoover had a 24-yard touchdown run by Vonte’ Brackett nullified by a holding penalty late in the third quarter. Instead the Bucs had to settle for Barret Pickering’s 32-yard field goal that tied the score 13-13 with 10:47 remaining in the fourth.
The field goal was set up when Vestavia’s Levi Wiggins dropped a punt and the Bucs’ Trent Whisenant recovered the loose ball at the Rebels’ 33.
The next time Hoover got the ball it drove to the Rebels’ 35, but turned the ball over on downs when running back C.J. Sturdivant was stopped for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play.
“Our defense was incredible,” Minor said. “I don’t know how many fourth down stops they had and they came up with fumbles and interceptions. We couldn’t have asked for better field position because of them.”
Following the fourth down stop, the Rebels drove 64 yards in five plays, capping the march with Minor’s touchdown run. The key play in the drive was senior quarterback Brett Jones’ 29-yard pass to Remington Patterson for a first down at the Bucs’ 15. Minor scored on the next play.
Vestavia scored first in the game, taking advantage of a Hoover turnover. Wiggins picked off a Christopher Vacarella pass and returned it to the Bucs’ 16-yard line.
Six plays later, Jones scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Jones fumbled the ball and recovered it, but it didn’t matter because he had already crossed the goal line, giving the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Hoover responded with an 11-play, 80 scoring drive, capped by Sturdivant’s 3-yard touchdown pass to H-back Joseph Timpa on a trick play, tying the score 7-7 with 39 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The touchdown came three plays after an offside penalty against Vestavia while Hoover was about to attempt a field goal on a fourth-and-4 play at the 15. The penalty gave the Bucs a first down at the 10.
A personal foul against Vestavia on the point-after kick allowed Hoover to kick off from the Rebels’ 45. The Bucs decided to try an onsides kick and kicker Barret Pickering executed it perfectly and teammate Temarcus Bryant recovered it at the Vestavia 32.
Hoover had to settle for Pickering’s 33-yard field goal, putting the Bucs ahead 10-7 early the second quarter.
The Rebels answered with Curry Howard’s 19-yard field goal, tying the score 10-10 with 4:50 remaining in the half.
Vestavia had a chance to break the tie after recovering a Hoover fumble at the Bucs’ 28, but wound up turning the ball over on downs from that spot.