Back on the right track
Hartselle starts slow, but bounces back to knock off Muscle Shoals
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
After coming out flat in the first half and down 6-3 against Muscle Shoals, Hartselle coach Bob Godsey gave his team an ultimatum at halftime.
"We just sort of discussed in a very nice matter that we needed to get rid of all the talking and all the thinking and just go out there and make plays," he said.
The Tigers got back to basics in the second half, riding their usual stalwart running game and defense to a come-from-behind 24-6 victory over the Trojans. Sophomore running back Montrel Murphy scored all three Hartselle touchdowns and picked up 158 yards on 26 carries.
It was a much-needed victory for the Tigers, who were coming off a 21-6 home loss to Decatur a week earlier and have difficult games against Athens and Cullman next.
"You've just got to keep plugging," Godsey said. "Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not. We've been through a tough road and might have been lacking in confidence a little bit, but we were able to get through in the second half and get this big win."
The win gave the team the 500th victory in Hartselle football history. It wasn't easy.
The Tigers opened with a mammoth 17-play drive that took a little over six minutes and ended with a 30-yard field goal by Ray Canafax. The offense struggled the rest of the half, and the defense didn't fare much better as Muscle Shoals scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second half.
The Trojans' scoring drive was just six plays, with running back Emmanuel Allen breaking through from the Hartselle 6 to put Muscle Shoals on the board. The extra point was blocked by Quinn Dunlap, his second blocked extra point of the season.
Hartselle's normally dominating defense was lackluster in the first half, allowing a total of 125 yards offense to Muscle Shoals. But the Tigers stepped in up in the second half, keeping the Trojans to just 30 yards of total offense and only six yards rushing.
The offense came back to life as well, doing what the Tigers do best – running the football. Hartselle started its first possession of the second half on its own 47-yard line and 12 plays later Murphy scored from the 2-yard line. The drive included only one pass – a 2-yard reception by Chase Taylor.
"We were able to get some nice stops on defense and a good long drive on offense and once we pushed it through it was like the weight of the world was off our shoulders," Godsey said. "We were able to have fun again, and that's what it's all about."
The Tigers added another seven points with 9:03 left in the game when Murphy scored from one yard out. The sophomore added a 17-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to close out the scoring.
Quarterback Wes Chenault quietly had a good game for the Tigers, finishing 10-of-19 for 111 yards. Chase Taylor was the team's leading receiver with four catches for 47 yards.
The Tigers invite Athens to J.P. Cain Stadium Friday. Both the Tigers and Golden Eagles are 3-1 in region play.
"We're looking forward to it. Our defense is excited about that," Godsey said. "It's a big challenge. They've put up a lot of points and a lot of yardage, but we're excited about it. That's the thing about our schedule, you don't get many breaks. But it's a big game for region standing and playoffs and all that stuff, but that's Hartselle football. It's supposed to be big, and I'm glad it is."