Russellville tops Athens 35-20, will host Fort Payne in opening round of the playoffs
For the FCT
ATHENS – There was no question that Friday night's game at Golden Eagle Stadium was going to be a battle, especially since the second seed in Class 5A, Region 8 was on the line.
Neither Russellville or Athens were going to give up until the final seconds ticked off the clock, but in the end it was the Golden Tigers that came away with the 35-20 victory, earning the right to host a home game in the first round of the state playoffs in two weeks. They will host Fort Payne.
"We're proud to be where we are," Russellville coach Doug Godwin said. "Our kids have played hard all year. Athens definitely didn't give it to us; we had to fight for it. They played a good game."
The Golden Eagles (5-3, 5-2) got on the board first with a 47-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Young to Chris Cain with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter. Brian Brown's extra point was good for the 7-0 lead.
Russellville (8-1, 6-1) answered shortly after that on a 24-yard pass from Joey Howe to Ryan Romans. The point after attempt was good, knotting the score at seven heading into the second quarter.
Howe hit Jake Ward with a 22-yard pass with 8:31 remaining before the half, allowing the Golden Tigers to take the lead.
Athens pulled to within four on a 20-yard field goal by Brown, but Russellville found the end zone once more on a 25-yard pass from Howe to Nathan McAlister as the first half ended.
"I'm very pleased with how our guys played," coach Allen Creasy said. "They never stopped playing. Obviously we made some mistakes in our game planning and Russellville took advantage of it."
The Golden Eagles carried momentum into the third quarter and scored on a 14-yard run by Jamaal Bess, making it 21-17. Athens pulled to within one on a 26-yard field goal by Brown with 11:45 to play in the game but failed to take the lead.
McAlister set a Russellville school record with 180 yards on nine catches. Bess lead Athens with 18 carries for 90 yards.