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          It was billed as the battle of the unbeatens in search of a title. W.S Neal and Tarrant entered the 1971 Class 3A state championship game with identical perfect 12-0 records.

          Brothers John and Jack O'Rear figured in every touchdown scored by Tarrant in a 34-20 win over previously unbeaten W.S. Neal in the Class 3A state championship game. John a senior running back rushed for 127 yards on 14 carries while Jack gained 48 on just four attempts. John scored three touchdowns and threw a 55-yard scoring pass to Race Seale.

          His brother, Jack, came off the bench to lead Tarrant on two scoring drives to seal the win. He engineered 55 and 54 yard drives in the fourth quarter to assure the Wildcats of their first state championship.

          John was unstoppable in the first quarter as the Wildcats jumped out to a 12-0 lead on two touchdown runs by the older sibling. Tarrant scored on their second possession moving 76 yards in eight plays. John got the touchdown on a 27-yard run and accounted for 69 of the 76 yards running the football and a 27-yard pass to James Crow.

          Following a Neal fumble, Tarrant took over on the 16-yard line and John scored six plays later on a one-yard run to put the Wildcats ahead 12-0. The Eagles came roaring back on the legs of their star running back Calvin Culliver. He scored on an 11-yard run to close the gap to 12-6.

          Danny Ellis recovered a Tarrant fumble on the seven-yard line and fullback James Hicks scored three plays later on a two-yard run to give the Eagles a 13-12 lead. John O'Rear threw a 55-yard halfback option touchdown pass to Ray Bolden with just 38 seconds remaining before halftime to put Tarrant back in front 18-13.

          After a scoreless third quarter, Tarrant scored again with 9:11 left on a 13-yard run capping a 54-yard drive. Neal was not to be counted out just yet and following a fumble by the Wildcats, Culliver raced 54 yards on the next play to pull Neal within eight points of the lead.

          The Wildcats responded with a 55 yard, six play drive that ended with a 23-yard pass from backup quarterback Jack O'Rear to Race Seale. The Wildcats lead had grown to an insurmountable 34-20. The Tarrant defense held Neal the rest of the game to preserve the victory.

          Jack O'Rear and Calvin Culliver signed scholarships to play football with the University of Alabama and both were star players for the Tide. John O'Rear was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1972 and played nine seasons in the minor leagues.

           Tarrant finished the 1971 season with a perfect 13-0 record. The thirteen wins set a school record that was later broken in 2001. The Wildcats have reached the title game since the 1971 season but have not been able to capture another championship.

           W.S. Neal lost out on the school's first undefeated season and finished 12-1. The twelve wins are the most of any team in W.S. Neal history. It was also the only time the school played for a state championship.



Tarrant ........................................ 12   6   0 16 -34
W.S. Neal ...................................   0 13   0   7 -20
 
Tarrant: John O'Rear 27 yard run
Tarrant: John O'Rear 1 yard run
Neal: Calvin Culliver 11 yard run (PAT no good)
Neal: James Hicks 2 yard run (Tommy Blair PAT)
Tarrant: Race Seale 55 yard pass from John O'Rear
Tarrant: John O'Rear 13 yard run
Neal: Calvin Culliver 54 yard run (PAT)
Tarrant: Race Seale 23 yard pass from John O'Rear


Tarrant
1971

9/3 35 Gardendale . . . . . . . . 20
9/10 35 John Carroll . . . . . . 0
9/17 14 Minor . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
9/24 50 Erwin . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
10/8 34 Tuscaloosa . . . . . . . . 0
10/15 38 Huffman . . . . . . . . . . . 15
10/22 33 Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/29 49 Albertville . . . . . . . 26
11/5 21 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 6
11/12 53 Arab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
11/19 55 Hamilton * . . . . . . . . 15
11/26 39 Saks * . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
12/3 34 W.S. Neal # . . . . . . . 20

490 13-0 127

* Playoff game
# State championship game
W.S. Neal
1971

9/3 26 B.C. Rain . . . . . . . . . 6
9/17 44 Escambia County . . . . 16
9/24 38 Demopolis . . . . . . . . . 6
10/2 46 Southern Normal . . . . 0
10/8 49 Evergreen . . . . . . . . . 6
10/15 62 Bullock County . . . . . 20
10/22 47 Defuniak Springs FL . . 8
10/29 65 Gulf Breeze FL . . . . . 8
11/5 27 Selma . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
11/12 37 T.R. Miller . . . . . . . 14
11/19 48 Colbert County * . . . 30
11/26 28 Oxford * . . . . . . . . . . 14
12/3 20 Tarrant # . . . . . . . . . 34

537 12-1 162

* Playoff game
# State championship game



  The Memorable Games, a series on the important and memorable games in high school football history

David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org



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