RHS avenges loss to DHS
By: Slade Gilmer
RUSSELLVILLE — Head coach Michael Jackson said that he wanted his Russellville squad to throw the ball 12 or 15 times in the season-opener against Deshler.
However, after a heavy downpour hit Russellville Stadium late in the first quarter, Jackson’s plans changed.
“We had been having trouble with snaps, and I didn’t want to take any risks, especially the way our defense played,” the second-year head coach said.
Russellville’s defense held Deshler to 225 yards while churning out 405 yards — with only one pass attempt for the game — in a 34-14 win at Russellville Stadium on Friday, Aug. 31.
The main cog in the Golden Tiger machine was senior running back Tyler Boyd, who rushed for 273 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns to help the Golden Tigers avenge a 41-21 loss to Deshler in 2011.
“I had seen where everybody had picked us to lose,” Boyd said. “I decided that if they beat us once, they wouldn’t do it again.”
After a three-and-out for Deshler on its first offensive series, Russellville used 11 plays to churn out 65 yards, the last 16 coming on a Boyd run. Adam Brown’s extra-point gave Russellville a 7-0 lead.
The defense continued to halt Deshler’s vaunted Wing-T offense, and forced another punt. A personal foul penalty negated a Jordan Gist return for a touchdown, but Russellville then used 10 plays to get 74 yards for its second touchdown as Boyd got his second score of the night, this one from 15 yards, to give Russellville a 14-0 lead.
“Our offensive line, my backfield teammates and the defense came out and played physically all night,” Boyd said. “We came out to make a statement.”
After taking the 14-0 lead into the locker room. Russellville’ offense stalled and a bad snap on a punt forced C.J. Posey into a 28-yard loss to the Russellville 11, giving Deshler excellent field position.
Two plays later, Deshler quarterback Justin Cantrell hit Dameon Fuqua in the end zone to cut Russellville’s lead to 14-7.
The Golden Tigers responded with an eight play, 80-yard drive that ended when freshman quarterback Landon Smothers—who did not attempt a pass– scrambled from six yards out to give Russellville a 21-7 lead.
Deshler, however, refused to go away, using a mix of passing and running to get into the end zone. The 11-play, 66-yard drive ended when Terrance Byrd plunged into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 21-14.
However, the Deshler defense had no answer for the Russellville running game, as Russellville used six straight running plays, ending with Bud Coleman scoring from four yards out, to push the lead to 28-14.
After one more three-and-out, the Golden Tigers put the game away, as Boyd’s last run of the game saw him outrace the Deshler defenders 64 yards into the end zone, pushing the final score to 34-14.
Jackson credited the off-season work of his players and coaches with the win.
“We didn’t win this game tonight,” Jackson said. “We won it over the last eight months. Our kids worked extremely hard to get to this point, and I’m very proud of them.
“Also, I thought both our offensive and defensive coaches did an excellent job of getting our guys prepared for Deshler. They worked extra hours to get us ready for this game.”
Russellville (1-0) will now turn its attention to Class 5A, Region 8, as the Golden Tigers travel to Muscle Shoals next week to take on 5A’s second-ranked Trojans.
“We’re in a very tough region, and I think everybody knows that,” Jackson said. “But tonight gives us great momentum for next week’s game against Muscle Shoals. We’re excited to play them.”