Tigers aren't golden
Late touchdown propels Golden Tigers to region win
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
Big games are usually won by big plays. Russellville made the biggest play, which spelled the difference in the big region showdown at Hartselle's JP Cain Stadium.
Russellville quarterback Jeremy Helms connected with receiver Chris Trapp for a 60-yard touchdown pass with 66 seconds left to lift the Golden Tigers to a 35-28 win over Hartselle.
"We played as hard as we can play, we just didn't make enough plays down the stretch," Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey said. "We had our chances. That's why Russellville wins a lot of games. They make the big plays that make a difference."
After two exchanges of punts, Hartselle would score first late in the opening period.
Justin Youngblood, who would finish with 196 yards on 25 carries, scored on a 19-yard with 45 seconds left in the first. The run ended a nine-play 84-yard drive.
Russellville answered when they drove 40 yards on the next drive in four plays. Helms scored from six yards out on a quarterback draw. The short drive was set up by a 55-yard kickoff return by Russellville's Maurice McCullough. The key play on the drive was a 35-yard pass from Helms to Nick Wood, putting the ball on the Tiger five.
Russellville then forced a Tiger punt and drove 60 yards to the Tiger five-yard line. Hartselle senior Chris Wiley then made the biggest defensive play of the game. Helms was flushed from the pocket by the Hartselle rush and threw toward the end zone. Wiley picked off the pass and took off on a 99-yard interception return for touchdown. With Patrick Whatley's conversion kick, the Tigers led 14-7.
Russellville answered on the next drive when McCullough, who would gain 161 yards for the game, broke up the middle and speed 64 yards to pay dirt. The conversion tied the score at 14.
Hartselle answered back with a 10-play 73-yard drive to take the lead just before the half.
Tiger quarterback Seth Watson passed two yards to Wiley on fourth-and-goal with only 11 seconds remaining until the intermission.
Russellville opened the second half with a quick score on a 53-yard run by fullback Bryant Bonds. With the conversion the scored was knotted at 21 with 10:37 left in the third.
The Tigers answered again on a nine-play 70-yard drive. Youngblood found the end zone for the second time with a 17-yard scoring run. With the point-after, Hartselle led 28-21.
Russellville then tied the score on an 11-play 80-yard drive. The score came on a 26-yard pass from Helms to Bonds with 43 seconds left in the third.
Hartselle then drove 45 yards in eight plays to the Russellville 27-yard line. The Tigers would lose the ball on downs when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Then began the longest drive of the game. Russellville kept the ball 16 plays and moved to the Tiger 29.
The Hartselle defense held on downs, but the Tiger offense was forced to punt and the visitors began the game winning drive.
The Tigers' last gasp ended when Leon Hubbard intercepted a Watson pass with nine seconds to play. Hartselle falls to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in 5A, Region 8 play. Russellville improves to 2-0 in region play.
"We're going to get there," Godsey said afterward. "We're going to continue to fight and get better."