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Hartselle Enquirer

Triple treat

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
DECATUR — For the third straight year, the Tigers had Austin’s number. But in a rivalry that has always featured exciting games, this might have been the most amazing finish of them all.
Hartselle opened its season with a hard-fought 37-34 victory at Ogle Stadium in Decatur.
It took three overtimes to decide the final outcome, with the teams trading scores in the first two extra periods. Hartselle held Austin’s offense to a field goal in the first half of the third overtime, and took over with a chance to win it with a touchdown.
It didn’t take the Tigers long.
Senior quarterback Wes Chenault found senior wide receiver Tyler Young open in the end zone for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The touchdown set off a raucous celebration as the Tigers rushed the field since the extra point was no longer a factor and there was no threat of a celebration penalty.
It was the third time in a row that Austin’s coach David Norwood has lost to his alma mater. After the game, an emotional Norwood congratulated his players on a hard fought victory and said “you have nothing to be ashamed of” in a team meeting at center field.
Chenault and the Hartselle passing game were in sync for the night, with the senior quarterback finishing the game 14-of-25 for 271 yards and four touchdowns — two to Young and two to senior Quinn Dunlap. Marquez Jones had the other score on an 11-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 17 in the fourth quarter. It was a reversal of last year’s 28-22 victory, when the Tigers scored all four touchdowns via the run and were held to 100 yards passing by the Austin defense.
Although the final score might not suggest it, the Tiger defense also stood strong, allowing just 168 yards of total offense.
Austin scored on its opening drive of the game as Kayne Stuart scored on a 16-yard run and senior kicker Morgan Hull kicked the extra point to put the Black Bears up 7-0 with 8:43 left in the first quarter.
Hartselle responded early in the second quarter as Chenault found Dunlap open on a short pattern and the senior dove into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown. The Tigers took the lead with 1:56 left in the first half on a 20-yard field goal by senior kicker Ray Canafax. Austin responded with a mammoth 53-yard field goal by Hull as time expired, and the teams went into halftime knotted at 10.
The teams played a scoreless third quarter and Austin drove into Hartselle territory early in the fourth quarter but missed an attempt to score when Dunlap blocked a Hull 57-yard field goal attempt.
The Black Bears moved ahead 17-10 with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter when Ty Chancellor picked up a blocked punt and ran it in for the score. But the Tigers did not appear rattled by the late score, putting together a methodical five-play answering drive that culminated with an 11-yard touchdown run by Jones.
Hartselle had an excellent chance to win the game in regulation when the Tigers held Austin down at its own 43-yard line and forced the Black Bears to punt with 1:18 left. The snap went over Hull’s head, but the senior was able to retrieve the loose ball and boot a 63-yard punt on the run that went dead at the Hartselle 5.
The Tigers ran one play, then knelt the ball to go into overtime.
Hartselle’s home opener is Friday night at 7 p.m. at J.P. Cain Stadium against Decatur.