Tigers blast Pats 40-6; playoff future still unclear
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
The Tigers aren't yet sure if they're in the playoffs, but they at least put themselves in position with an easy win over the visiting Patriots.
Hartselle, Cullman and Walker currently sit tied for third place in Region 8 with identical 4-3 records in region play. Hartselle defeated Walker, Walker defeated Cullman and Cullman defeated Hartselle, which means the teams must now go to a second tiebreaker.
According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association, that tiebreaker uses the total number of wins by defeated opponents. Currently, Hartselle's defeated opponents have only 14 wins combined, compared to Cullman's with 17 and Walker's with 18. But the Tigers' number will go up if Hartselle wins its final game against 5-4 Florence. Cullman is possibly the team in the worst shape, with its only remaining game against 1-8 Arab.
The Tigers will also be cheering for Austin to win its last game against Butler, because that will increase the Black Bears' record to 4-6 and give Hartselle one more tiebreaker point that could ultimately make the difference.
But the playoff mess was far from the Tigers' mind as they scored on five of their first six possessions and the Tigers paced to an easy 40-6 victory over region foe Brewer.
The Tigers' offense, which has been anemic at times this season, finally exploded. Both of Hartselle's young quarterbacks threw for a touchdown and sophomore Montrel Murphy scored two touchdowns in just one half of play.
"These young men work so hard, and you want good things to happen for them, and it finally did tonight (on offense)," Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said. "There's been times when we haven't played well, and that's part of it, but these guys haven't backed away and it feels good to put it all together. I'm happy for them."
The six points allowed by Hartselle's defense is tied for their second-best performance of the season. The defense's effort was even more impressive because the team played without senior leader Johnny Jones. Jones injured himself during the week at practice and watched from the sideline in street clothes.
"Johnny was out tonight and we had some guys who had to shift around out there, but they responded and did well," Godsey said.
Hartselle opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal just a little less than three minutes into the game. Only three minutes later, Hartselle increased its lead to 10 points on a 45-yard run by Murphy.
Murphy rushed for 150 yards on just eight carries while rushing for two touchdowns.
The Tigers scored their second touchdown of the game when freshman quarterback Luke Bole found TJ Long open for a 6-yard reception. It was the first career touchdown for Bole and Hartselle's first passing touchdown since Sept. 23 against Decatur.
Murphy scored his second touchdown in the second half, and Tony Weaver picked up a touchdown pass of his own with a 40-yard strike to Hunter Corum. Corum went up to make the catch and then broke away from the Brewer defensive back to make the score 31-0.
The Hartselle defense stiffened at the end of the half, when Brewer moved all the way to the Hartselle 7-yard line with just 5.8 seconds left. The Patriots' Lucas Wilson completed a short pass to Brian Stevens, but Stevens was tackled short of the goal line.
The Tigers added a touchdown on their first possession of the second half on a 9-yard run by Chase Taylor, his first rushing touchdown of the season. Brewer responded in a big way with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to wide receiver Rodney Childs.
Childs finished with 143 yards on eight catches in a losing effort.
Hartselle's final score came on a safety with 5:51 left in the third quarter. Wilson was called for intentional grounding while throwing from inside the end zone.
The lopsided score allowed for Godsey to play some of his younger players, including freshman running back Josh Slaten. Slaten finished with 32 yards on nine carries.
The Tigers have one regular season game remaining, at home against Florence. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.