Golden Tigers lose close game
By Slade Gilmer
For the FCT
A fourth-and-goal conversion with four seconds left on the clock concluded a wild fourth quarter and gave the Class 7A Sparkman Senators a 39-36 win over Russellville in a non-region showdown Sept. 25.
The Golden Tigers looked to have pulled a great comeback win when Deyon Hill scored on an 11-yard run with 1:46 left in the game, but a last-second drive gave the Senators the homecoming victory.
Russellville got the opening kickoff and drove right down the field. A 47-yard pass from Payton Nichols to Hill gave the Golden Tigers possession on the Senator two-yard line, and Hill scored on the next play to give Russellville a 7-0 lead.
However, it didn’t take long for the Senators to respond, as Sparkman quarterback Devon Kimbrough broke off a 39-yard run to put the ball deep in Senator territory and scored three plays later to tie the game.
Russellville responded with another touchdown. Colin Garrison’s kickoff return put the ball in Senator territory, Nichols converted a third down with his legs, and Hill scored his second touchdown of the night from nine yards out to make the score 14-7.
The Senators wasted no time, returning the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. The extra-point was no good, and the Golden Tigers led 14-13.
On the next drive, Russellville got a big screen pass from Nichols to Hill, and Cameron DeArman broke free for a 22-yard run to the Senator one-yard line, where Nichols punched it in to give Russellville a 21-13 lead.
The Golden Tiger defense held on through Sparkman’s next possession, but a muffed punt gave possession back to the Senators deep in Russellville territory. The Senators moved inside the 10, but a fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
However, a miscommunication on fourth down led to a failed fake punt that gave Sparkman the ball at the Golden Tiger 11. This time, the Senators would not be denied, as two plays later, Sparkman scored. The extra-point made the score 21-20 Russellville.
After a punt, the Senators took over again, and after a penalty moved the ball into Golden Tiger territory, Sparkman hit another big play, this one a 48-yard touchdown run that gave the Senators a 27-21 lead.
Russellville drove down to the Sparkman one-yard-line right before halftime, but the clock ran out before the Golden Tigers could get the ball in the end zone, leaving Sparkman with a 27-21 lead.
After a wild first half, the second half settled into a defensive struggle. However, another muffed kick gave the Senators the ball in Golden Tiger territory once again. And once again, the Russellville defense stood tall, stopping the Senators on down inside the 10.
This time, however, Sparkman came up with a sack of Nichols and a safety to make the score 29-21. The Senators then drove to the Russellville five, but the Golden Tiger defense held, and the Senators kicked a field goal to take a 32-21 lead with 10:44 left in the game.
This time, Logan Jones got in on the act, returning the kick to the Senator 36. A third-down screen to Hill gave Russellville one first down, and then Hill used a second-effort run to get a first down on a fourth-and-short to the Sparkman 11. An offsides penalty moved the ball to the six, and DeArman bulled into the end zone to make the score 32-27. Nichols then hit Avery Sears with a two-point conversion pass to cut the lead to 32-29.
Sparkman went three-and-out, and a shanked punt gave Russellville the ball on its own 46. The Golden Tigers marched 54 yards, with Hill scoring his third touchdown of the night, this one from 11 yards out, to give Russellville a 36-32 lead.
Sparkman was then able to drive the ball the length of the field, and after Russellville’s defense stiffened and forced a fourth-down, an eight-yard pass gave the Senators the 39-36 win.
Russellville falls to 4-1 on the season with the loss, while Sparkman improves to 2-3. Russellville will be back in action Oct. 2, as the Golden Tigers host East Limestone in what looks to be a game that could determine the Class 5A, Region 8 title. Both teams are 3-0 in region play.
The Indians have won four straight games following a season-opening loss to West Limestone, including a 14-0 win over arch-rival Athens last Friday. East Limestone defeated Russellville 21-14 last season en route to the Class 5A, Region 8 championship.