Russellville takes advantage of Deshler penalties in 26-14 victory
RUSSELLVILLE – The Russellville football team entered the season with many people questioning if they could maintain the success that has made them one of the best programs in northern Alabama.
The Golden Tigers answered that question Friday night with a 26-14 win against Deshler – the top-ranked team in Class 4A.
"We showed a lot of people," said Russellville quarterback Joey Howe. "Our team proved ourselves tonight."
The fourth-ranked Golden Tigers left fans wondering when Deshler returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a score to take a 14-7 lead.
Russellville was able to pick up a pair of first downs on the following series, but had to punt the ball away.
Two plays later Russellville's Jesse Green intercepted a pass and returned it 18 yards for a score to tie the game.
"It was big. He made a great play," Howe said. "He has eyes for the game if anyone can read an offense it's him."
Deshler took the ball to the Russellville 20, but the drive stalled out with two runs for a short loss and a sack by Aaron Hollingsworth. Deshler went for it on fourth-and-twenty only to have Russellville's Jake Ward break up a pass in the back of the end zone to force a turnover on downs.
"It was huge," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "They beat us deep one time so we had a good idea of what was coming."
The Golden Tigers took a penalty on the following drive and were quickly facing a long fourth down. Deshler committed a penalty giving Russellville a first down.
Four plays later Mario Roman converted a fourth-down run to keep the drive alive.
Brent Calloway scored his second touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run but Bolton missed the point after kick and Russellville had a 20-14 lead with 10-16 remaining in the game.
After forcing another Deshler punt, Russellville put together another scoring drive aided by a Deshler penalty. The Golden Tigers were facing a third-and-eleven play when Howe's pass fell incomplete. Instead of forcing a punt, Deshler committed a personal foul resulting in another Russellville first down.
The Golden Tiger took the gift and four plays later running back Scotty Freeman broke free for a 29-yard run to set up a first-and-goal situation at the Deshler 5-yard line.
"The line blocked good and I saw it and went with it," Freeman said.
Ryan Romans scored on a 5-yard run on the next play to cushion the lead for the Russellville. The two-point-conversion failed.
In a last-ditch effort, Deshler drove to the Golden Tiger 20-yard line, but sacks by Russellville's Demorian Abernathy and Trent Brannon ended any hope of a comeback.
The Golden Tigers shut down the Deshler offense, holding the Tigers to only five first downs in the game and giving up only 154 total yards.
Running back Brent Calloway opened the scoring when he ended a 64-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 8:45 remaining in the second quarter to give Russellville a 7-0 lead.
Deshler answered with a 40-yard touchdown pass with 5:18 remaining in the first half.
Russellville fumbled the ensuing possession and Deshler recovered the ball on the Golden Tiger 30-yard line. The Tigers failed to gain any yards and punted back to Russellville.
Russellville drove the length of the field, but Casey Bolton missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Howe finished with 17 completions for 192 yards while Mason Willis was the leading receiver. He had five receptions – all in the first half – for 64 yards.
Freeman led the Russellville rushing attack, gaining 80 yards on 13 carries and Abernathy was the leading defender with five solo tackles, two assisted tackles and the late sack.
Russellville will host Lee-Huntsville Friday in the region opener.