Golden Tigers clinch region victory
By Josh Prewitt for the FCT
The Russellville Golden Tigers continued their road stand for the second week as they traveled to Alabama A&M Louis-Crews Stadium in Huntsville, where they faced J.O. Johnson in a big region 8 opener game.
Cameron DeArman had a big night in all phases of the game that helped Russellville to a 29-26 win for a second straight year against the Jaguars.
DeArman’s big night got started early when Johnson QB Brandon Crosby went to pitch ball on a option play to RB/CB Jarius Grayson, but before the ball could get in his possession, DeArman forced a fumble that was recovered by RHS linebacker Sid Willis that set up a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Payton Nichols to RB/WR Deyon Hill to take an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
J.O. Johnson answered back quickly with a 55-yard bust up the middle for a touchdown form RB Jarius Grayson. Jaguars went for two-point conversion, but it was intercepted by CB Colin Garrison to keep Russellville on top by 7-6.
The Golden Tigers were still leading after the first quarter, 14-6. Big plays from DeArman forced J.O Johnson to go three and out midway through the second quarter. DeArman showed his presence as he busted through the line for a huge 57-yard career long monster run to the one-yard line. The next play Hill punched it in for the score to put the Golden Tigers up 21-6 going into halftime.
“The first half was huge for us,” said Coach Mark Heaton. “We got big plays when we needed them. DeArman had a big forced fumble that helped us get the first score of the game, and the defense played very aggressively for us.”
Early in the third quarter Johnson got the ball first and scored, cutting Russellville’s lead to 21-14 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Crosby to WR Jarius Grayson on a critical forth and 13 conversion. Grayson put on a show for the Jaguars after his 55-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game and later when he added a huge 72-yard run to the two-yard line, where he put it in the end zone the next play.
It didn’t take long for the Golden Tigers as Hill answered big for RHS, scoring his third touchdown run of the night. With kicker Marvin Betancourt injured at the time, the versatile DeArman lined up to kick, but Heaton called for a fake, which Hill converted by receiving the direct snap to punch it in, making it 29-14 with 7:27 remaining in the third.
J.O. Johnson didn’t back down, continuing the second half surge with another hook up from Crosby to Grayson that made the game very interesting with a score of 29-20.
Despite the second half run by Johnson, Russellville’s DeArman made the biggest play of the night with the Jaguars trailing 29-26 after Crosby completed a first down pass. As the receiver went to lateral the ball, DeArman snatched the ball away, making the play of the game. Nichols followed up with a big fourth and one conversion with 1:11 left in the forth and with no timeouts for Johnson. Nichols took a knee for Russellville, letting the time run out and giving the Golden Tigers a huge win over J.O. Johnson for the second straight year, winning 29-26 to improve to 2-0 (1-0) in Region 8 standings.
“This was a big region win for us,” Heaton said. “We had so many chances to put them away but couldn’t, but with defense making plays when needed and DeArman at the end – that was crucial in giving us a big win … This game puts us in great position if we can take care of business in our home opener against Columbia next week.”
“It was a great feeling,” Hill said after the big 29-26 win. “Everyone played great as a whole. We fight for each other, and this wouldn’t be possible without everyone. It’s a team thing, and that’s what I love about our team this year.”
Russellville Golden Tigers 2-0 (1-0) play their home opener in another big region 8 game when Columbia travels to the Golden Tiger Stadium Friday.