Muscle Shoals keeps it close but Russellville holds on for 20-9 victory
The fifth-ranked Russellville football team got a little bit more than it bargained for as it resumed region play against Muscle Shoals Friday.
The Golden Tigers jumped out to an early lead, but played sluggish in the second half on their way to a 20-9 victory over their long-time rivals.
"(Muscle Shoals) didn't do anything we didn't prepare for," said Russellville coach Doug Goodwin. "The second half our offense didn't play well."
Russellville (5-1, 3-1) looked strong from the beginning, scoring on its first drive of the game. Scotty Freeman scored on a 2-yard run to cap a six-play drive that covered 68 yards. Casey Bolton added the extra point.
After forcing the Trojans (1-5, 0-4) to punt, Joey Howe connected with Brent Calloway for a 67-yard touchdown pass, but a Russellville penalty wiped the points off the scoreboard.
The offense regained its composure and padded the Golden Tiger lead when Calloway scored on a 1-yard run. Bolton missed the point after leaving Russellville with a 13-0 lead with 9:40 to play in the first half.
"They did a good job of overcoming it," Goodwin said. "The penalty occurred 25 yards behind the ball. It was undisciplined on our part."
A miscue by the Trojans on the ensuing kickoff allowed Russellville to gain possession of the ball on the Muscle Shoals 25-yard line.
After a 19-yard pass from Howe to Ryan Romans, Calloway scored his second touchdown of the evening on a 6-yard run. Jose Betancourt tacked on the extra point to increase the lead to 20-0.
Muscle Shoals took their next possession to the Golden Tiger 5-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal as the Russellville defense stiffened.
Russellville took the ball to midfield, but turned it over on downs. The Trojans then took the ball to the Russellville 18 -yard line with about 10 seconds remaining in the half.
Calloway broke up a pass in the end zone, forcing Muscle Shoals to try another field goal. Romans got past the blockers and blocked the kick.
The teams seemed to reverse intensity during halftime as the Trojans came out of the locker room fired up while the Golden Tigers were flat.
"Their team gained confidence and began to play harder," Goodwin said. "We didn't get after it like we have been getting after it."
Russellville was forced to punt on its opening drive of the half, and Muscle Shoals took advantage.
Driving from their own 31-yard line, the Trojans put together a seven-play drive that ended in an 18-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was not good, leaving the Trojans with an 11-point deficit.
The Golden Tiger offense sputtered the rest of the game. On Russellville's next possession Howe threw an interception.
The Russellville defense then forced a three-and-out, forcing a Trojan punt. The Golden Tigers took over on the Muscle Shoals 39-yard line.
The offense drove 34 yards before a penalty backed them up. Facing forth-and-goal from the Trojan 17, Howe's pass was broken up on the goal line by a pair of Muscle Shoals defenders.
Russellville had another drive that ended when Freeman fumbled in Muscle Shoals' territory and the Trojans recovered.
Freeman led the Russellville ground game with 67 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Calloway gained 43 rushing yards on six carries and scored twice.
Howe completed 12-of-23 passes for 153 yards and an interception. He completed passes to nine different receivers.
Nathan McAlister was the leading receiver with three catches for 66 yards. Calloway caught a pair of passes for 33 yards.
Russellville will continue its region schedule on the road next week at J.O. Johnson.