Vigor too much in second half as Golden Tigers' deam of state title falls short
BIRMINGHAM – The Russellville football team left its mark all over the Super 6 record books, but not in the way it wanted to in its 50-30 loss to Vigor in the Class 5A state championship game.
Four records were broken, three of them in large part to the potent Vigor offense.
"They were bigger, faster and stronger. That is a bad combination," said Russellville coach Doug Goodwin. "The (running backs) were big, but they were quick. They were as talented a group of runners as you will ever see.
"They pounded us with those big backs. There was not a lot we could do about it."
Vigor set Super 6 records for most rushing yards in a game with 480 yards on 56 carries. The Wolves also set a new record with 606 yards of total offense, shattering the old mark – 523 yards – set by Deshler in 1999.
The two teams combined to score 80 points, a new record for the Class 5A championship game.
The final record belongs to Goodwin. He became the first coach in state history to coach three different teams in a championship game.
He coached Lineville to the title game in 1996 and 1998 and he got Demopolis to the finals in 2004.
Vigor wasted little time scoring, using only 1 minute and 17 seconds to move 83 yards on its first drive. Fifty-seven of those yards came on a double-reverse-pass play from Marvin Shinn to Jalston Fowler.
Two plays later, Fowler scored on a 21-yard run. The point after attempt failed, leaving Vigor with a 6-0 lead.
Russellville drove 65 yards on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled out on the Wolves' 3-yard line. Jose Betancourt connected on a 20-yard field goal to cut the Golden Tigers' deficit to three points.
Vigor fumbled on its next possession and Darrian Graham recovered for Russellville at the Golden Tiger 41, but Russellville was unable to capitalize on the gift and was forced to punt.
The Wolves took the ball and added to their lead when Kendall Houston scored on a 1-yard run and quarterback Keith Ray converted the two-point run to give Vigor a 14-3 lead 16 seconds into the second quarter.
Vigor padded its lead minutes later on a 7-yard run by Houston and Fowler kicked the extra point.
Russellville quarterback Joey Howe drove the Golden Tigers 55 yards on the next drive and found Chase Gilmer for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 5:11 remaining in the second quarter to cut the Vigor lead to 21-10.
Brent Calloway scored on a 9-yard run later in the quarter to pull Russellville within four points at halftime.
"We started making plays and felt they were getting tired," Goodwin said. "They must have rested up at halftime."
With momentum on their side, the Golden Tigers stopped Vigor on its first possession of the second half when Jake Ward recovered a fumble and returned it to the Wolves' 10-yard line.
Two plays later, Howe hit Mason Willis for an 8-yard touchdown strike. The point after attempt failed, but Russellville gained its first lead of the game 23-21.
"We were hoping once we got up on them we could stop them," Goodwin said.
That plan did not work.
Vigor answered three minutes later on a 39-yard run by Fowler and Ray ran in the two-point play. Houston extended the lead at the end of the third on a 3-yard run and Rat hit Shinn on the two-point pass to put the Wolves ahead 37-23.
For good measure, Vigor scored two more times in the fourth quarter.
Russellville got its final score on a 75-yard pass from Howe to Nathan McAlister with 1:34 remaining in the game.
The Russellville offense was never able to establish a running game and forced Howe to throw early and often.
The Golden Tigers rushed the ball 16 times for negative 11 yards. Calloway carried the ball 12 times for 20 yards. His longest run was nine yards.
Howe completed 19-of-46 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
Ryan Romans was the lead receiver with seven catches for 96 yards. McAlister caught two passes for 85 yards.
Jacob Gist led the Golden Tiger defense with 13 tackles while Jesse Green recorded 11 tackles.