Trojans blank RHS to end 11-game skid
Muscle Shoals capitalized on a couple of long runs and used a suffocating defense Friday night to put an end to an 11-game losing streak to Russellville.
The Trojans raced out to an early 10-0 first quarter lead and created three early turnovers, putting the Golden Tigers in a hole they couldn’t climb out of on their way to a 24-0 loss at the hands of one of the program’s most fierce rivals.
It was Muscle Shoals’ first win over Russellville since 2000 and the first time the Golden Tigers had been shutout since a 14-0 blanking by Colbert County in 1998.
“I think they have the best defense in the region,” first-year Golden Tigers head coach Michael Jackson said.
“I think our defense played hard all night, they just hit us with a couple of big plays.”
The defense was put on its heels early when Trojans running back Charles Gist took the opening play 67 yards down to the Russellville 13-yard line. The Golden Tigers defense stiffened and held Muscle Shoals on downs, but fumbled the ball away two plays later, setting up a Trojan field goal.
The Russellville offense turned the ball over two plays later and the Trojans quickly capitalized with a 17-yard touchdown pass. The extra point put Muscle Shoals ahead 10-0 with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter.
The Golden Tigers’ defense stopped two more Trojans drives deep into their territory before finally breaking with just over a minute to go in the first half.
Tyler Jackson took a handoff around the right end for a 73-yard touchdown run with 1:38 left in the half.
“That was a big play,” Jackson said. “If we hold them and its 10-0 or if we go down and score and it’s 10-7 at the half, you never know what might could have happened.”
Jackson said he was pleased with the defensive effort and performance Friday night, but expressed concern about the offense’s ability to sustain drives.
“We get something good going, then we make some kind of error,” he said.
He used the example of a fourth and short in the second half when the Golden Tigers lined up in the wishbone.
“We blocked it better than we have all year in the bone, but we graze the fullback and fumble,” he said.
Muscle Shoals would tack on a late fourth quarter touchdown to cap the scoring at 24-0.
The loss drops Russellville to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the region, putting their playoff chances in doubt.
It is the Golden Tigers’ first four-game losing streak since late in the 1997 season.
“We will have to get excited and play hard for these last two (region) games.”
Russellville will host Lee-Huntsville next week for Homecoming and travel to Columbia the following week for the final region game of the season.