Gardendale pounds Hartselle in playoffs
Hartselle appears flat in final game of the year; fall 28-7 to Rockets
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
GARDENDALE – For Bob Godsey, Friday night's loss to Gardendale was simple to explain.
"They raised their (Gardendale) level to a playoff level, and we didn't do that for whatever reason," the Hartselle head coach said. "They're a solid team."
Hartselle ended a somewhat up-and-down season Friday night in Gardendale, falling to the Rockets 28-7.
The Tigers appeared flat on offense, but Gardendale's defense may have had something to do with it. Hartselle gained just 133 yards to Gardendale's 279.
Rockets running back Chris Russell had his way all night long, rushing 20 times for 97 yards and two first half touchdowns.
Russell helped Gardendale out to a 14-0 lead with two nine yard touchdown runs. His first capped the Rockets' opening drive of the game, while his second came on the first play of the second quarter.
Hartselle finally had an answer for Gardendale on the ensuing kickoff though, as senior Nikita Stover returned the kickoff 54 yards. Following a personal foul on a late hit, the Tigers started their drive from the 25-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Seth Watson faked a reverse to Stover and found tight end Chris Borden in the flat. Borden darted for the pylon and scored Hartselle's only touchdown of the night.
It was Watson's lone highlight, as he completed 7 of 17 passes for 52 yards and two interceptions against a speedy secondary.
"I think he's played against secondaries as good as that," Godsey said. "He just got in a funk (Friday) night."
Gardendale fullback A.J. Davis added a touchdown midway through the second quarter, and the Rockets took a 21-7 lead into the locker room.
After the two teams continually swapped possessions in the second half before Gardendale hit paydirt for the last time.
Quarterback Ryan O'Neill, who was 9 for 12 for 115 yards, threw a touchdown strike to tight end Ricky Bradberry from 33-yards out. Bradberry took advantage of the secondary biting on a play fake and made a one-handed catch for the score.
"We fought, we scratched and we clawed to get to this point," Godsey said. "Maybe we were just out of gas."
How They Scored
GHS – Chris Russell 9-yard run (Geoffrey Jones kick) 8:02.
GHS – Chris Russell 9-yard run (Geoffrey Jones kick) 11:52.
HHS – Seth Watson 12-yard pass to Chris Borden (Patrick Whatley kick) 8:56.
GHS – A.J. Davis 8-yard run (Geoffrey Jones kick) 6:08.
GHS – Ryan O'Neill 33-yard pass to Ricky Bradberry (Geoffrey Jones kick) 4:25.
First downs 8 13
Rushing yards 81 164
Comp-Att-Int 7-17-2 9-12-1
Passing yards 52 115
Total yards 133 279
Penalties-yds 2-15 5-35
Rushing: Hartselle – Isiah Herring 13-51, Justin Youngblood 9-41, Nikita Stover 1-2, Seth Watson 2-(-13). Gardendale -Chris Russell 20-97, A.J. Davis 15-60, Thomas Edwards 5-10, Ryan O'Neill 4-(-3).
Passing: Hartselle – Seth Watson 7-17-2, 52 yards. Gardendale – Ryan O'Neill 9-12-1, 115 yards.
Receiving: Hartselle – Justin Youngblood 5-32, Chris Borden 1-12, Isiah Herring 1-8.