Vestavia Hills came up short in its bid to win the Special Olympics Alabama Unified Flag Football Game last Wednesday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Baldwin County Schools’ Unified football team downed Vestavia Hills 27-20, giving the Bandits, coached by Mike Conner, their third consecutive title.
Baldwin County beat Vestavia Hills 26-18 in 2018 but lost to the Rebels 27-26 in overtime in the qualifying competition at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery in November.
Vestavia Hills, coached by Terry Tingle and appearing in its fourth consecutive title game, took a quick 7-0 lead when Austin Ballard threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Graham Duncan on the first play of the game. Ballard passed to Zulanas Carter for the extra point.
Baldwin County tied the score when Hamilton Baker completed a 4-yard TD pass to Trey Morrisette with 13:24 remaining in the half. Isaiah Featherston scored the PAT.
Baker then found himself on the receiving end of a 25-yard TD pass from Brian Talley at 8:42 of the first half for a 13-7 lead.
The Rebels scored three minutes later on Duncan’s 38-yard run. He also scored the PAT, giving Vestavia Hills a 14-13 lead.
With one second remaining in the half, the Bandits scored when Talley hauled in a 5-yard pass from Baker. Baker then connected with Featherston on the two-point conversion to make it 21-14 at halftime.
Baldwin County increased its lead to 27-14 early in the second half when Morrisette caught his second 4-yard TD pass from Hamilton. The extra point failed.
The Rebels closed the scoring when Duncan caught a 38-yard touchdown toss from Ballard.
Duncan led the Rebels with 41 yards rushing on two carries and 83 yards receiving on three receptions. Ballard was 4 of 14 passing for 79 yards and two TDs.
Baker was 10 of 18 passing for 69 yards and three touchdowns for Baldwin County. Talley was 6 of 10 for 92 yards and a score for the Bandits.
Featherston had five catches for 48 yards, Talley had five for 30 and Baker had four for 75 yards for Baldwin County. Mack Brock finished with a team-high 31 yards rushing on six carries.