Golden Tigers drop season opener to Grissom Tigers
The Russellville varsity football team faced the Grissom Tigers at Huntsville’s Milton Frank Stadium to start the 2022 season, and the Golden Tigers fell in the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between the two schools by a 34-21 final score.
The 7A Grissom team, coming off a 3-7 record a season ago, was able to contain the RHS rushing attack throughout the contest and was also successful in mixing the run and pass while possessing the ball on offense to get the victory.
“A lot of first-game mistakes. A lot of mental errors, which we expected,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter after the game. “A lot of dropped balls – and if you’re going to put the thing in the air, you’ve got to catch it.
“We were just inconsistent,” Ritter added. “That’s expected early in the year; the key is, how do we rebound? How do we respond?”
One key, Ritter said, will be being able to run the ball.
“They were really good up front. That’s the best front that we’re going to see all year long,” he added. “I give credit to them for stopping the run. We’ve just got to be effective on offense.”
After the two teams traded punts at the end of their first possessions of the game, the Grissom defense intercepted a Russellville pass to set up the first scoring play of the contest. A fourth-down conversion on a running play kept the drive alive, and a five-yard touchdown pass three plays later – followed by a successful extra-point kick – made the score 7-0 with 2:34 remaining in the opening quarter.
It took two plays after the kickoff for the Golden Tigers to get deep into Grissom territory. A 55-yard pass from quarterback Harrison Burch to receiver Randall Johnson was the big gainer, and it was followed a couple of plays later by a four-yard touchdown run by Conner Warhurst to get RHS on the board.
The extra-point kick that followed, however, was no good, and the score was 7-6 just before the end of the first period.
The following Grissom possession lasted for almost half of the second quarter, but it ended on a big stop by the Russellville defense on a fourth-down play.
The Golden Tigers then took the lead on an electrifying 66-yard TD pass from Burch to Johnson. The PAT kick by Louis Aguirre was good this time, and RHS was ahead 13-7 with 6:41 to go in the first half.
Grissom took the ensuing kickoff the distance for what would have been a TD, but a penalty by the nullified the score.
Mixing the run and pass helped Grissom find the end zone again. A 35-yard touchdown throw and catch capped the scoring drive and gave Grissom a 14-13 advantage at the half.
The Tigers grew their lead to 21-13 with 2:22 to go in the third period on a direct snap to the running back for a 27-yard touchdown carry.
Later in the same quarter, the Russellville defense evened the score when Malachi Duncan applied pressure to the Grissom quarterback to force an interception by Devin Green, who made his way to the end zone on a long return for a touchdown.
The following try for two was good: Burch threw a pass, and TJ King reached over the close defender for an outstanding grab to make the score 21-21 near the end of the third quarter.
It took Grissom four plays to answer, and a 44-yard TD pass put the Tigers back ahead. Grissom later added a 26-yard touchdown pass to finish the scoring with 6:35 left in the game.
The Golden Tigers threatened to score on the last RHS possession, but the 12-play drive was stopped on an incomplete fourth-down pass attempt.
Next, Russellville will travel to Tuscumbia Aug. 26 to battle the Deshler Tigers in a rivalry game. DHS is 1-0 after a win at Madison Academy to start the season.