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franklin county times

Patriot games

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
HOOVER - The Golden Tigers missed out on a golden opportunity.
Already leading Saturday's state championship game against Homewood 7-0 after an impressive opening drive, Russellville had a chance to build on that early momentum as the Patriots turned the ball over on each of their first two possessions.
The Golden Tigers couldn't capitalize, however, failing to convert Homewood's uncharacteristic miscues into points.
The Patriots quickly found their offensive rhythm, scoring touchdowns on their next four possessions en route to defeating Russellville 35-21 for their third Class 5A title in the past five years.
Despite the adjustments by the Patriots (14-1), the Golden Tigers (13-2) still finished the game with more total yards (383-379) and first downs (24-14). They also held a significant advantage (28:37 to 19:23) in time of possession.
Homewood came out on top in the only column that matters, however, sending the Golden Tigers to their third straight championship game defeat.
Russellville was penalized six times for 50 yards, while the Patriots were flagged just twice for 16 yards.
Each team finished with two turnovers, but Russellville's proved much more costly.
After Homewood tied the game 7-7 on Steve Freeman's 49-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the second quarter, the Patriots quickly regained possession when Robert Gentry recovered a fumble by Jeremy Helms at the Russellville 17-yard line.
Austin Hubbard scored from two yards out six plays later to put Homewood on top 14-7 with 8:32 left in the first half.
The Golden Tigers responded with a 13-play, 55-yard drive that culminated in Helms' game-tying 3-yard touchdown run.
The key play on the drive was a fourth-down completion from Helms to Mike Abernathy that kept the drive alive.
Russellville also converted two fourth downs on its opening drive, a 15-play, 78-yard march that ended with Helms' 5-yard touchdown pass to Abernathy.
The Patriots ultimately seized control of the game with a touchdown just before halftime and another immediately after it.
Hubbard connected with Tim Hawthorne on completions of 22 and 16 yards as the Patriots moved 74 yards in 12 plays to close the first half.
Hubbard's 1-yard keeper capped the drive and gave Homewood a 21-14 lead.
The Patriots delivered the fatal blow on the second play of the second half. Hubbard dropped back and lofted a high-arcing deep pass that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before falling right into the lap of Hawthorne, who was five yards behind the Golden Tiger defense.
Hawthorne raced to the end zone for a 74-yard score that put the Patriots on top 28-14.
Late in the third quarter, Kenny Baker picked off a Helms pass at the Homewood 28-yard line.
Laderrius Woods then raced 58 yards on a misdirection shuffle pass to set up Hubbard's third touchdown run of the game, a 2-yarder to make it 35-14 with 2:18 left in the third quarter.
Russellville scored the game's final touchdown on a 3-yard run by Maurice McCulloch with 10:07 to play.
Helms finished the game 19-of-37 for 182 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 83 yards and a score on 18 carries.
Abernathy added 52 yards on 10 carries, and McCulloch rushed 11 times for 46 yards.
McCulloch also caught eight passes for 75 yards.
Hubbard completed 9-of-14 attempts for 212 yards. He also rushed 14 times for 55 yards and three scores.
Freeman had 105 yards on 18 carries, and Hawthorne caught four passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Bryant Bonds finished with nine tackles for Russellville, and Justin Rose added seven.
Rodney Suggs intercepted a pass, and B.J. Bean recovered a fumble.
In the aftermath of another Super Six defeat, Swindall reflected on the achievements of this year's team.

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