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RHS claims victory in overtime versus Deshler

Last season it took the Russellville football team two overtimes to defeat the Deshler Tigers. This year, it took one.

In the season opener for the Golden Tigers Friday night, Jacob Bishop found Nathan Brockway for an eight-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the night to win the game 27-21.

It was a typical matchup between these two storied programs that went right down to the final play in front of a packed Howard Chappell Stadium in Tuscumbia. The game was the first on the new artificial surface at Deshler, and Russellville sported gold helmets for the first time in many years.

“Like we talked about all week, Deshler is Deshler,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter.  “I don’t care who the coach is, I don’t care what their record is, they’re Deshler, and the Deshler-Russellville game is huge. Tonight was just another example of that.”

The two teams were even at 21-21 at the end of regulation, and then Deshler (0-2) got the ball at the 10-yard line to start overtime.

DHS managed to move to the Russellville five-yard line before a penalty marched DHS back to the original line of scrimmage for a third-down play.

A handoff gained a yard, and then, Deshler lined up in a field goal attempt formation on fourth down.

Another penalty on DHS moved the Tigers back five more yards, and their field goal fake resulted in an incomplete pass.

Russellville gained a couple of yards on a first-down run by Austin Ashley before the game-winner on the following play.

The Golden Tigers held a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before Deshler came back to score three straight times to take a 21-14 advantage into the half.

Ashley scored on a 12-yard run with 7:39 remaining in regulation, and the Miguel Flores extra-point kick tied the score at 21-21.

Ritter said his message to his team after losing the lead was simple: “just to be resilient.”

“I felt like in the second quarter and really part of the third, we started pressing and trying to make every play instead of just taking what they gave us,” Ritter said.

Running back Airreon “Boots” McCulloch had a strong first half, scoring the first two touchdowns of the game for Russellville – his first on a one-yard carry and the second on a seven-yard score.

However, he left the game early in the second half because of cramping, and Austin Ashley was clutch down the stretch. On the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter, the 5-foot-8 senior caught a 50-yard pass from Bishop before scoring the TD later in the possession.

“We feel like we’ve got a good one-two punch. Ashley didn’t get a lot of touches in the first half, but he hung in there and did what he was supposed to do. He put us on his back there late. It’s a little back, but he put us on it,” Ritter said with a smile.