Russellville clips Florence 41-13
Franklin County Times
No. 9 Russellville shut down running back Shawn Southward and used a 24-0 advantage in the second half to win a crowd-pleasing 41-13 game over Florence Friday night at Russellville Stadium.
"We played a high-quality team tonight," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "I thought we played oustanding in all three phases of the game – we did great in our kicking game and on offense and defense."
The tenth-ranked Falcons, the Class 6A, Region 8 champions, enjoyed an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Chad Willis play-faked and rumbled 52 yards on Florence's first drive.
Russellville struggled early on offense, but senior Mike Abernathy had his most productive game this season with 219 yards on 32 carries and four touchdowns, including a 1-yard scoring run on the Golden Tigers' first drive of the second quarter to tie the game at 7.
"Our defense played great, and we stuffed Florence's run and forced them to pass," Goodwin said. "Mike was as good as it gets tonight, and out line blocked really well for him – they couldn't stop him in the second half."
After a strong defensive stand on Florence's opening drive in the second quarter, including two bone-jarring tackles by senior safety Caleb Mitchell and a third-down tackle for no gain by Jacob Daniel, Russellville struck again as Abernathy found the end zone from 19 yards out to give the Golden Tigers a 14-7 lead.
After Russellville's drive stalled at the the Florence 18-yard line, Josh Montgomery booted a 35-yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-7 with 2:08 left until halftime.
Florence responded with 10-play, 67-yard drive that ended with Southward scoring from 5 yards out on fourth-and-goal with eight seconds remaining. The PAT was blocked by Ryan Romans, who also had a second-half interception, and Russellville took a 17-13 lead into the locker room.
After a Golden Tigers turnover on the first drive of the second half, Abernathy and Kory Suggs ran over defenders and combined for 56 yards rushing on five carries, including a 9-yard touchdown by Suggs with 4:09 left in the third quarter to put Russellville ahead 24-13.
After Mitchell intercepted Willis at midfield and returned it to the Florence 19-yard line, Abernathy finished a four-play drive with a 7-yard run with 10:09 remaining in the fourth quarter and scooted around right end untouched for another 7-yard touchdown with 5:45 left to give Russellville a 38-13 lead.
Montgomery, who finished 5-of-5 on PATs and 2-of-2 on field goals, capped the scoring with a 22-yard field goal with 31.7 seconds left in the game.
The Russellville defense, which held Southward to a paltry 44 yards on 13 carries, dominated the game. Florence was held to 119 yards of total offense despite coming into the game averaging 45 points in its previous four games. The Falcons also shot themselves in the foot with 10 penalties for 119 yards, including several personal fouls, compared to only five flags for 40 yards for Russellville.
The Golden Tigers also forced four turnovers, including three interceptions.
Russellville will host Erwin next Friday at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the state playoffs.