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RHS Tigers shut down Haleyville

The Russellville Golden Tigers got their first shutout of an opponent since the 2015 season Friday night against the Haleyville Lions and improved their record to 5-0 with a 35-0 home victory.

It was the first meeting on the football field at RHS since 1999 for these two rivals, who previously met each year from 1950-1981. The series was recently renewed, and Russellville has taken both meetings under the leadership of John Ritter, now in his second season as head coach of the Golden Tigers.

Russellville took the lead halfway through the first quarter Friday night when Jacob Bishop threw a seven-yard pass to JD Price for a touchdown on the first drive for RHS. Miguel Flores followed with the first of his five successful extra-point kicks in the game.

Haleyville’s next offensive possession was a short one. On first down, Jamal Hubbard intercepted a Lions’ pass, and the Golden Tigers were back on the attack.  

Six plays later, RHS found the end zone again when Bishop connected with Rowe Gallagher for a 28-yard TD strike with 4:37 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Lions began their next drive at their own 20-yard-line and, after 17 plays, HHS failed to score, getting as close as the RHS 1 before a couple of penalties and a botched field goal attempt kept the score 14-0.  

Four plays later, Haleyville had the ball back after picking off a Bishop pass on third-and-long play that, despite the turnover, worked out much like a punt.

After the next HHS drive stalled, Russellville was on the move again. A key third-and-25 conversion on a Bishop-to-Gallagher pass racked up 46 yards and led to a touchdown carry by Airreon “Boots” McCulloch from a yard out. 

The score came with 39 seconds remaining the half and put RHS up 21-0.

The third period began with a drive by Russellville that featured a highlight effort by Peyton Ray. Ray caught a pass from Bishop for a 34-yard gain. RHS got to the Haleyville 1 on the possession, but a penalty, an incomplete pass and a missed field goal followed.

The Lions’ next drive came to an end with Grayson Eady getting a piece of the ball on a Haleyville punt to put his team in good field position. Russellville took over at the HHS 40-yard-line, and the next drive saw tempers flare. Haleyville was flagged for a personal foul and a face mask penalty on separate plays during the possession. 

The emotions of the moment didn’t keep the Golden Tigers from scoring, as Bishop found Gallagher again, this time for a nine-yard TD pass.

After the game, Ritter shared his thoughts on the events that took place on the field during the third quarter.  

“They were doing some stuff that I thought was kind of sorry, truthfully,” he said. “Just protecting my kids – I love my kids like they’re my own, and you know, I got a little heated because I do love my kids, and I don’t want anybody to mistreat them.”

The RHS defense had consecutive big plays in the fourth quarter when a Cody Logan sack of the quarterback was followed by a Caden Watts interception.  

The final touchdown drive was capped off by a one-yard run by Austin Ashley with 5:22 remaining in the contest.  

The Golden Tigers finished the game by choosing to allow their reserves to get some playing time and by running out the clock, rather than running up the score, when the Golden Tigers had the ball at the Haleyville 2.