Russellville picks up 21-13 win
By Matt Wilson
For the FCT
The Russellville Golden Tigers slogged their way through another sloppy game Friday night in front of a homecoming crowd on their way to a 21-13 win.
The win clinches second place in 5A Region 8 and guarantees a first round playoff game at home.
The evening opened up with Russellville getting on the board first on a 48-yard run by Deyon Hill off of a fake punt.
The excitement wouldn’t last long for the Golden Tigers as quarterback Peyton Nichols fumbled the ball on the next possession giving the ball to the Lawrence County Red Devils inside Russellville territory.
“We haven’t been playing that well in the past few weeks,” said head coach Mark Heaton.
“We have found a way to win these past two weeks, but our execution has not been what it needs to be.”
Lawrence County punched in a quarterback run with 10:33 remaining in the opening half to take a 7-6 lead into halftime.
After the break, the Golden Tigers came out and mounted a spirited first drive that started with Nichols ripping off a 19-yard run that got the crowd and the sideline back into the game. But the theme of the night for Russellville was stalled drives and missed opportunities.
“We’ve got to find a way to start playing better, to get better as a football team,” Heaton said.
“If we don’t get that figured out then we’re not going to be in the playoffs very long.”
But Russellville’s defense, as it has done all year, kept the team in the game. Big stops and interceptions kept giving Russellville the opportunities on offense that they were going to need.
Reed Smith snagged the first of three interceptions for the Golden Tigers in the third quarter that squashed a building momentum for the Red Devils, likely keeping them out of the end zone.
But what momentum swing Russellville could have benefited from after that turnover was denied as the Golden Tigers drove down for the touchdown only to be stopped on the goal line on fourth down.
The fourth quarter looked like it would be much of the same and Lawrence County was able to continue to run the ball and the clock and keep Russellville on the sideline.
But Kyle Tidwell came up with a huge interception for the Golden Tigers giving Russellville the ball back on a short field and an opportunity to take the lead.
After the offensive drive stalled out again, a bad snap on the field goal try resulted in Smith picking the ball up and making a spirited effort but falling short of the goal line. Russellville had come up short again on a scoring opportunity.
But with just under five minutes remaining in the game and the homecoming crowd growing tense and quiet, Lawrence County shanked a punt, their first mistake of the evening.
Russellville began driving down and Colby Tompkins made a huge grab for the Golden Tigers on a fourth and seven play to keep things going with under four minutes to play.
Thirty seconds later, Nichols split the defense on a quarterback run up the middle and after a successful two-point conversion, Russellville had regained the lead 14-7.
The wild evening wasn’t over yet as Jacob Hamilton intercepted the Red Devil quarterback and returned it deep into the red zone. Two plays later and Hill tallied his second touchdown of the evening making it 21-7.
Lawrence County tacked on a late touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the game, but the outcome had been settled.
Russellville finishes their Region 8 season on the road Oct. 24 to Pope John Paul before finishing the regular season on the road to Cullman Oct. 31.