Turnovers prove costly in first loss of football season for Russellville
In a battle of top 10 football teams, the Class 5A No. 6 Russellville Golden Tigers fell to Class 6A No. 5 Hartselle by a score of 58-21 Friday night.
Russellville (5-1, 3-0) was able to keep the score close for the first half on homecoming night in Hartselle, with the Golden Tigers trailing 17-14 after two quarters of play. However, three third-period turnovers were too much to overcome versus a talented HHS squad.
With the victory, Hartselle improved to 6-0 on the season.
“You can’t turn the ball over against a good team and expect to be successful,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter.
“The key for us is, how will we respond? Will we respond the right way and use this to get better, or will we respond the wrong way and let it destroy us?” Ritter added. “Time will tell, and we will see next week how we respond.”
RHS put together a 10-play drive to start the game, but the possession ended with a turnover on downs.
Hartselle followed with a 13-play scoring drive that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown run with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.
The following kickoff was muffed by Russellville, and the HHS Tigers recovered the loose ball, setting up their next score: a 1-yard TD run by the quarterback to put them up 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
The Russellville offense got moving on the next play from scrimmage. Quarterback Gabe Amick threw long to TJ King for a 33-yard gain. Three plays later, Conner Warhurst took a handoff and raced 38 yards for a Golden Tiger touchdown.
The first of three successful extra-point kicks in the contest by Manny Martinez made the score 14-7 with 10:28 remaining in the opening half.
Grayson Thorpe of RHS intercepted a Hartselle pass on the next possession to give the ball back to the offense.
Ten consecutive running plays, followed and Warhurst finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown carry to tie the score.
Hartselle was able to retake the lead with a 26-yard field goal with just over seven seconds left in the half.
The large crowd saw Hartselle pull away in the third quarter.
The first play from scrimmage was a 79-yard TD run, followed three plays later by a pick-six by the HHS defense of a Russellville pass that quickly grew the lead to 31-14.
After two RHS snaps, Hartselle intercepted another pass, and the turnover ended up leading to another field goal – this one, 35 yards in length.
The next possession by the Golden Tigers ended with a strip of the ball by a Hartselle defender on a running play. This later led to a 51-yard touchdown pass to put HHS up 41-14 with 3:20 to go in the third period.
The fourth quarter included a 30-yard Hartselle touchdown run and a 26-yard TD carry by Russellville’s Malachi Duncan. Those scoring plays were followed by a kick-off return for a touchdown by Hartselle and a 26-yard field goal later by HHS to finish the scoring.