Golden Tigers get revenge 13-6, spoil Hartselle's bid for perfect season
HARTSELLE – Outside the visitor's locker room at J.P. Cain Stadium in Hartselle there was a reminder of what happened the last time Russellville and Hartselle met on the football field.
It was a copy of the Hartselle paper following the Tigers' win against Russellville during the fourth week of the season, complete with a large photograph of the players celebrating.
Friday night, the Golden Tigers returned the favor by celebrating on Hartselle's field after knocking off the top-ranked team in Class 5A 13-6 to avenge their only loss of the season and secure a place in the state semifinals.
"It feels great, we all came out and played great," said Russellville running back Brent Calloway. "It wouldn't have felt right if we had lost this game."
Russellville wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.
The Golden Tigers took their opening possession 79 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 7:32 remaining in the opening quarter.
Calloway capped off the drive with a 14-yard run and Jose Betancourt added the point after.
The Russellville defense held Hartselle to negative two yards on the Tigers' opening possession, forcing a punt.
The Golden Tiger offense went back to work, chewing up both yards and clock before quarterback Joey Howe ended the 59-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run with less than a minute remaining in the opening quarter.
The point after failed, leaving Russellville with a 13-0 lead.
"It was the reverse of what happened in the first game," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "We wanted to see how they play (when trailing). Fortunately we were able to do that."
Hartselle ran four plays on its next possession, but an interception by Russellville's Nathan McAlister ended the threat.
Hartselle opened the second half with a 60-yard scoring drive capped off with a 1-yard run by Marquez Jones. The point after attempt failed.
The Russellville offense was plagued by penalties in the second half, making it difficult for the Golden Tigers to pick up first downs.
In the fourth quarter, Russellville got a lucky bounce that allowed the Golden Tiger to milk the clock.
Forced to punt, the Golden Tigers kicked the ball, which hit a Hartselle player and fell to the ground.
Darrian Graham was able to recover the fumble for Russellville and extend the drive.
Although the Golden Tigers did not score on the drive, they were able to run nearly seven minutes off the clock.
Hartselle got the ball back with 2:35 remaining in the game, but the Tigers only had one timeout remaining.
They were able to convert a fourth-and-4 play to keep the drive going, but Aaron Hollingsworth sacked the Hartselle quarterback for an 8-yard loss on the ensuing play.
"Everybody was saying 'Aaron you better get through' because they knew I could," Hollingsworth said.
The Tigers were unable to convert their next forth-down play and Russellville was able to run out the clock.
With the win, Russellville improves to 12-1 on the season while Hartselle falls to 12-1.
After two weeks on the road, the Golden Tigers will return home for their semifinal game against Cullman (11-2).
The Bearcats defeated Walker 38-28 in their quarterfinal game.