Hartselle dominates Athens in 27-13 win; gains control of second place in Region 8
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
ATHENS – Perhaps Mike Smith is just a perfectionist.
When asked of Jeremy Orr's fourth-consecutive game with more than 100 yards rushing, the Hartselle High School head coach said "He ran hard, but he didn't block well."
Nevertheless, Orr gained 139 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown as the Hartselle Tigers beat Class 5A, Region 8 foe Athens, 27-13.
The win gives Hartselle sole possession of second place in the region. With a win against Cullman Friday night, the Tigers would have home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
"The team was up for the game, and it was a quality win," Smith said. "As for Cullman, I'm going to enjoy this game for about six hours, then start watching tape (on Cullman)."
Athens was without Auburn commitment Jason Jude, but Courtney Cain stepped in nicely for the Golden Eagles.
Cain scored Athens' only touchdown of the night on a 65-yard run early in the first quarter. Cain later added a 63-yard run but did not score.
On the ensuing kickoff after Cain's touchdown, Nikita Stover evened the playing field with a 98-yard return for a score.
"That felt good," Stover said. "I read my blocks, and the field just opened up for me."
Athens fumbled on its next possession, giving Hartselle the ball at the 27-yard line. Seven plays later, Isiah Herring ran in from six yards out.
Stover added his final touchdown of the night on a 26-yard reception from Kevin Jones in the second quarter. After Mohktar Hajialilu's extra point, Hartselle led 21-7.
Following an Athens field goal by Bill Sharman, Orr finally reached the endzone from a yard out.
"I owe it all to my offensive lineman," Orr said. "They opened up some big holes for me to run through, and I just did the rest."
"He's got great vision, great feet and great speed," Smith said. "But, he'll be pushing the sled this week."
Sharman added another field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the first half for what proved to be the final points for either team.
Cain led all rushers with 164 yards on 11 carries. But, as a team, Athens gained only 139 yards on the ground.
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