Just a nice Friday night drive
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
Hartselle’s fourth quarter drive that led to the Tigers’ final touchdown Friday night was a thing of beauty.
With Muscle Shoals trying to regain momentum after cutting Hartselle’s lead to 17-14, the Tigers needed to respond and they did so in a big way. Just look at the numbers in the answering drive — 64 yards, 13 plays (eight runs and five passes), 6 minutes and 26 seconds off the clock.
Of course, the most important number of that drive was 7 — the number of points the Tigers received after Ray Canafax’s extra point split the uprights. But the drive accomplished much more than simply giving the Tigers a more comfortable lead.
Hartselle also managed to eat up over half the quarter, giving the Trojans little time to mount any kind of comeback. When Muscle Shoals did get the ball back, the Trojans were forced to go to the passing game in order to try and conserve precious seconds. The strength of Muscle Shoals’ offense — its running game — was effectively neutralized.
The drive also showed the Tigers’ aggressiveness. In the middle of the drive, Hartselle faced a fourth-and-inches situation from the Muscle Shoals 37-yard line. Rather than trying to pin the Trojans down with a coffin corner punt, the Tigers went for it and converted.
This was an important game for Hartselle, who would have fallen to 1-2 in region play had Muscle Shoals managed to come from behind and win. If the Tigers end up making the playoffs, they will almost certainly remember “The Drive” that helped make it happen.
Here’s this week’s picks.
Cullman Bearcats (4-0) at Hartselle Tigers (3-1): You should expect the same brutal game you always get from these two teams, even though Cullman and Hartselle are no longer in the same region. The Bearcats are currently 4-0 and have outscored their opponents 119-28, but those opponents have a combined record of 4-12. Cullman simply has not played a schedule comparable to Hartselle’s, and the Tigers will have the advantage playing at home and with revenge on their minds after last year’s 37-10 drubbing in Cullman…Tigers 31, Bearcats 28.
Falkville Blue Devils (3-1) at Vinemont Eagles (3-1): On paper this looks like a pretty close game. Both teams have defeated Danville, and both teams are 3-1. But I’m going to give the nod to the Eagles, who are a bigger classification and who are playing at home…Eagles 20, Blue Devils 17.
Priceville Bulldogs (2-2) at Danville Hawks (0-4): In this column, I have predicted Danville to win every week so far this year. The Hawks have yet to win a game this season. Obviously, I am Danville’s jinx. Time to mix up that mojo. You’re welcome, Hawks fans…Bulldogs 35, Hawks 28.
Brewer Patriots (1-3) at Hayden Wildcats (1-3): Congratulations to Brewer, coming off its first win of the season. The Patriots are getting better, but they’re not quite where they need to be to knock off another Class 5A team on the road…Wildcats 17, Patriots 10.
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1, 1-1 in SEC) at Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0): Now it’s time to see what the Tide are made of. Alabama outplayed Arkansas in all facets of the game, except for the final score. The Swamp is a very difficult place to play, and Florida is still stinging from that 31-3 drubbing they took at Tuscaloosa last year. Revenge will be on these Gators’ minds, though Alabama should be able to at least keep it close for a while…Gators 28, Crimson Tide 20.
Auburn Tigers (4-0, 2-0) at South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1): Auburn fans have visions of national championship trophies in their heads, and this is a trap game if ever there was one. Thursday night, crazy fans in Columbia, Steve Superior on the other sideline. The Tigers, who have not looked very sharp in their last two games, will take a win any way they can get it…Tigers 31, Gamecocks 28.
Purdue Boilermakers (4-0) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1): Notre Dame’s win over Michigan State is the kind of victory that can rejuvenate a team. Especially a team that faces no currently ranked opponents until a end-of-the-year showdown with USC. Purdue is undefeated, but that record is built on weak opponents…Fighting Irish 38, Boilermakers 21.