Russellville defeats Fairfield to open 5A football playoffs
The Russellville Golden Tigers hosted the Fairfield Tigers in the first round of the AHSAA Class 5A football playoffs Friday night, and the home team got a 38-21 win.
With the victory, RHS improved to 9-2 on the season and will travel to Moody in the second round to face the Blue Devils. Moody won at Scottsboro in round one by a 28-10 score.
Russellville fell behind 7-0 versus Fairfield when the Tigers scored a one-yard touchdown on a fourth down play about halfway through the first quarter. The Golden Tigers answered quickly when Cam Phinizee scored the first of his four touchdowns of the night on a 47-yard run. Manny Martinez followed with the first of his five extra-point kicks during the contest to even the score.
RHS took a 14-7 first quarter lead when Malachi Duncan intercepted a Fairfield pass and, before going down, he pitched the ball to Devin Green near the end zone on the return for a touchdown. The Russellville defense helped to set up the next score when Reece Carson intercepted Fairfield on the following possession. A couple of plays later, Phinizee again went 47 yards for a touchdown to end the first quarter.
The half continued on the opening play of the second quarter when Fairfield threw deep, and the receiver made a catch in the end zone while being covered to make the score 21-14 on the 50-yard touchdown. The Tigers evened the score with the aid of an interception of a Russellville pass that was followed by an eight-yard touchdown run by the quarterback with 4:34 to go in the second quarter. A missed Fairfield field goal attempt of 26-yards allowed the score to remain 21-21 at the half.
With the rain coming down during the final two quarters, Russellville’s defense held Fairfield scoreless the rest of the way, and the Golden Tigers relied on their rushing attack on offense to earn the victory.
Second half points for RHS came on a two-yard touchdown run by Phinizee in the third quarter followed by a 39-yard field goal in the wet conditions by Martinez and a 46-yard Phinizee touchdown in the fourth period.
“What a great job by the offense, defense and special teams,” Russellville head coach John Ritter said after the win. “It was kind of an uncharacteristic win. I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten into three tight ends and one receiver and to be in it for three quarters of the game, what a testament to our guys just for believing in what we were going to do, trusting the process and making plays on both sides.”
The RHS team now looks ahead to facing the Moody squad on the road.
“It doesn’t matter where we go as long as we get to go together,” Ritter said. “This group, we’ll load up a bus and go anywhere.”