Golden Tigers seek redemption against only team to claim victory against them this season
When Russellville hosted Hartselle September 19, the Golden Tigers were undefeated and ranked No.1 in Class 5A.
Tonight they will play Hartselle again, but this time it is the Tigers that are undefeated and ranked No. 1.
"We all feel like we didn't play as well as we could have the first time," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said of his team's week-four loss to Hartselle. "We were negative three in turnovers, the most of any game this year."
It was a turnover that cost Russellville the chance to win the game. Trailing 17-7 at halftime, the Golden Tigers scored in the third quarter to cut their deficit to three points.
Russellville was driving down the field to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but a fumble near midfield was recovered by Hartselle and returned for a touchdown with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. It was the final score of the contest.
"We feel we can play better and are looking forward to the game," Goodwin said.
Goodwin explained one of the reasons Hartselle was so successful against the Golden Tigers earlier this year is because the Tigers were able to convert several third-down plays. This allowed Hartselle to maintain possession of the ball for over 37 minutes while Russellville only had the ball for about 10 minutes.
He said the defense would have to step up if Russellville (10-1) wants to win the game.
"We are going to have to do a better job of getting the defense off the field quicker," Goodwin said.
Part of accomplishing that will be shutting down running back Marquez Jones, who has rushed for 1,495 yards and has scored 31 touchdowns for Hartselle (12-0) this season.
If the game is close in the closing minutes, Goodwin feels confident his team can pull out the victory, especially after the close wins during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
"(Those wins) have got to help," Goodwin said. "You've got to think you always have a chance to win."
Russellville reached the state quarterfinals by defeating Fort Payne 35-31 in the opening round before knocking off Madison County 13-6 last Friday.
Hartselle dominated its first-round opponent, Scottsboro, 41-7 and beat Boaz 14-3 last week.
The winner of this game will play the winner of the Cullman vs. Walker game in the semifinals.