Mike Jennings

Mike Jennings (14) was a stalwart running back for Guntersville in 1967. He's shown here in the state playoffs. The photo is courtesy of the Facebook page "You know you are from Guntersville."

Editor's note: Alumni Field - the old Marshall County High School football field next to Guntersville Elementary School - is getting an upgrade. There's a ton of history from that stadium. One team from that era that old time fans look back upon fondly is the 1967 squad that went 9-1 and made the playoffs for the first time in school history. This is the story of the '67 squad's amazing victory over Huntsville on the road, one of the most famous games in Wildcat lore.)

Man, what a

ball game it was!

Sometime, somewhere, there may have been a more thrilling climax to a football game. But you won't convince many people who braved the rain to watch MCHS play Huntsville Friday night. 

It was one of those events legends are born of. 

The score was Guntersville 9, Huntsville 7 - a result the Huntsville Times called "one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of North Alabama football." But what made it unforgettable was the way the Wildcats pulled it off under pressure, with skill, quick thinking and considerable flair. 

In addition to a well-oiled clutch passing attack, Guntersville's final drive saw Mike Jennings take over in a crisis when quarterback Danny parker was caught out of position with time virtually gone. The winning field goal was made by a Panama-born boy, David Amado, who grew up kicking soccer balls and now boots footballs in the same sideways fashion. 

Well into the last quarter, most Wildcat rooters felt good about the scoreless tie that seemed to be shaping up. After all, Huntsville lost only one game last year and was supposed to be a powerhouse again this season. And Guntersville hadn't been overly impressive the week before in losing to Boaz. 

But then things began to happen. 

Parker got a drive going at midfield with a completed pass to Rickie Bynum, who took a couple of steps and then lost the ball out of bounds on the Huntsville 31. The officials ruled it a completed pass, and Huntsville immediately drew a 15-yard penalty when one player cursed at G'ville head coach Hollis Coleman. That gave G'ville a first down on the 16.

Halfback Lynn Harmon raced around left end to the 2. Two plays later, Parker plunged across the goal. The kick for the extra point was wide and so was a second chance effort following a Huntsville penalty, so the score stood 6-0.

Only 5:55 remained, but the Panthers came back strong. Two completed passed gave them a first down on the Guntersville 42. Then the Wildcat line began putting pressure on passer Cary Walker, and Jarmon intercepted a pass to stop the threat. 

Only 3-1/2 minutes left, Wildcat fans relaxed, only to see everything suddenly turn sour. 

A G'ville play failed to gain. Then the ball got loose in the backfield and the Wildcats found themselves back on their own 18 with third down and 17 to go. Bobo McRee, whose punting all night had been superb, stepped back near the goal line. 

The pass from center was low and by the time McRee got the kick away, he was under a swarm of white jerseys and one of them got in the way of the ball. It bounced over the goal line and Huntsville end Vince Stafford fell on it as the G'ville fans groaned. A perfect kick made it 7-6. 

The clock read 1:55. 

As cool as ice despite the pressure, the Wildcats made the seconds count. Jarmon ran the kickoff to the 32. Parker passed to Butch Looney on the 48. Two incomplete passes and a loss made it fourth and 18, before Parker hit Jarmon all the way up to the Huntsville 36 for the crucial first down. 

Hope raced through the crowd. Maybe they could really do it!

Parker found no one open on the next play and ran to the 29. Just 30 seconds remained and all G'ville's timeouts were used up. Parker hit Looney for 10 yards and Jarmon for 10. The Wildcats had it first and goal on the 5. 

Confusion broke out on the field. One official had stopped the clock after the first down was signaled with a bare 12 seconds showing and quarterback Parker trotted to the sideline to confer with Coach Coleman. But while he was gone, another official motioned to the timekeeper to start the clock again. 

Eleven, ten, nine, eight....

The Wildcats were lined up in formation but they had no quarterback. As the time evaporated, fullback Jennings stepped quickly into the quarterback slot and began barking signals. Parker reached the squad just in time to step into Jennings' vacant position at fullback. The ball was snapped and Jennings threw far over everyone's head for a deliberate incomplete pass that stopped the clock - with exactly 2 second left. 

Two seconds, it turned out, was plenty. Coach Coleman sent in 16-year-old Amado, who have never before gotten into a game. The Wildcat line gave him time and he booted the ball soccer-style. It crossed the goal posts just as the last agonizing seconds finally vanished on the scoreboard. 

- - -

In the aftermath of the game, the Associated Press named two Wildcats Alabama's players of the week. 

Quarterback Danny Parker was named Back of the Week. Placekicker David Amado was named Lineman of the Week, despite the fact he never played on the line or anywhere else other than behind the kicking tee. 

"Parker's passing carried the Wildcats all the way from their own 32 yard line to the Huntsville 3-yard line in the last two minutes of the game," the Gleam reported. "He completed strikes of 16, 24, 10 and 12 yards and ran for 7 yards during the drive. 

"Amado had never been in a football game until the final play of the Huntsville game, when Coach Coleman sent him in with the clock stopped at 2 seconds and the ball on the 2."

The newspaper noted that "Amado can do about as well in his socks as his shoes, although he wore shoes Friday night."

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