Golden Eagles swoop in, steal victory from RHS in game’s final seconds
The Russellville Golden Tigers looked to have things going their way Friday night in the football regular season finale versus Athens.
Senior night at RHS included a 28-7 halftime lead for the home team. Then, a field goal by the Golden Tigers grew the advantage to 24 points with 9:29 remaining in the third quarter.
It was the last time Russellville would score before the 6A Golden Eagles of Athens came on strong to grab a 32-31 victory with a touchdown in the game’s final seconds.
Russellville (6-4) scored first when quarterback Harrison Burch threw a touchdown pass to Randall Johnson that covered 49 yards. Conner Warhurst added the first of his three second-quarter touchdown runs with 9:42 remaining in the half to make the score 14-0.
The Golden Eagles picked up their first TD on a 35-yard carry, but Warhurst ran 40 yards to answer with 6:41 to go in the second quarter, making the score 21-7.
The final Russellville touchdown of the contest capped a 90-yard drive that finished with a 14-yard run to the end zone by Warhurst with 2:19 to go in the first half.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, RHS used eight plays to get into field goal range. Manny Martinez was good on a 31-yard kick, and the Golden Tigers had a 31-7 advantage.
AHS got the score to 31-13 with a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Russellville missed an opportunity to score at the beginning of the fourth period because of a penalty and a missed field goal three snaps later.
Athens used a long touchdown pass to make the score 31-20 with 7:48 to go in the contest and after a Russellville punt on the next possession. The Golden Eagles put together a 10-play scoring drive that was kept alive with a catch of a tipped ball on a fourth-and-long pass. The try for two points by Athens after the TD was no good, and with 2:38 to go in the game, the score was 31-26 in favor of Russellville.
It looked as if RHS would hold on for the win after the ensuing onside kick by Athens went out of bounds, but the Golden Tigers would go three-and-out on the following offensive possession.
After the punt, AHS had the ball at their own 12-yard-line with 2:06 left on the clock.
The Golden Eagles put together a 14-play touchdown drive that finished with a 12-yard pass for the game-winning score with eight seconds to go in the game.
Russellville will now go into the 5A playoffs looking to advance with a home win over Boaz.
“We’ve got to build on the things that we did well. I did a very poor job in the second half making adjustments, and it cost us,” said RHS head coach John Ritter after the game against Athens.