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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle handles Russellville to reach 5A semifinals

Hartselle senior wide receiver Will Tiffin celebrates after the Tigers beat rival Russellville 24-14 in a Class 5A state quarterfinal playoff game Friday. Hartselle will host Briarwood Christian this week.
Hartselle has been a step away from the semifinals four times in the last five years.
It took a 24-14 win over Russellville in the quarterfinals to finally end the Tigers’ run of disappointing losses in quarterfinal playoff games.
Hartselle stopped the No. 4 Golden Tigers in front of a standing-room only crowd at J.P. Cain Stadium to reach the semifinals of the Class 5A state playoffs for the first time since 2002.
“We’ve been to the quarterfinals four of the last five years and the ball just never really bounced our way,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey. “The ball finally bounced our way tonight.
“To finally get to the semifinals and to beat Russellville to do it means we’ve finally squashed a lot of demons.”
Hartselle has now beaten Russellville – certainly one of the top Class 5A programs in the state over the last 15 years – three times in the last three meetings between the two rivals.
Hartselle will host Briarwood Christian at 7 p.m. at J.P. Cain Stadium with a trip to the finals at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on the line.
Both teams come into the game with identical 12-1 marks after suffering losses in non-region games during the fifth week of the season against Class 6A teams.
“We’re carrying the torch for this football program,” Godsey said. “We’re carrying the torch for the city of Hartselle. We can’t allow it to stop here.”
In the other Class 5A semifinal game, McAdory will host Spanish Fort.
“We want it. We want a championship,” said Hartselle senior Terry Wiggins. “Hartselle has never had a championship and we plan to be the first team to get one. That’s just how we think.”
Hartselle struck first with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Will Lang to Malcolm Fossett on the Tigers’ first possession of the game.
Lang, who completed 10 of 15 pass attempts for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win, avoided a couple of Russellville defenders and scrambled to his right before connecting with Fossett inside the 10-yard line for the 7-0 advantage.
Fossett, who rushed for 95 yards in the first half, helped Hartselle add to its lead with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:42 remaining in the half.
Fossett finished the night with 154 yards rushing on 29 carries.
“We kind of put it on our offensive line’s shoulders and on Malcolm’s as well,” Godsey said. “Russellville did a good job of making it tough on us on the perimeter, but at the same time we had some success inside. That’s where we were making the yardage.”
Russellville answered quickly on its next possession when Brent Calloway broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run to trim Hartselle’s lead to 14-7.
Calloway, who has already committed to play at the University of Alabama next season, had a solid night running the ball, but he didn’t hurt Hartselle the way he has other teams all season.
After rushing for more than 1,700 yard in Russellville’s first 12 games, Calloway finished with 172 yards on the ground with 30 carries.
“We knew that if we did our jobs, Calloway would take care of himself,” Wiggins said. “We just did what we had to do and that worked out for us.”
A Calloway miscue after a jarring hit by Charlston Williams in the third quarter led to a Hartselle score after Austin Borden recovered a loose ball that slipped from the Calloway’s hands.
Hartselle took advantage of the takeaway when Lang threw his second touchdown pass of the night – a 10-yarder to Will Tiffin – that pushed the Tigers’ lead back to 14 points at 21-7 with 10:28 remaining in the third quarter.
“We got the lead there in the third quarter and put it on the line’s shoulders,” Godsey said. “We’ve got two sophomores and four of them are first-year starters. They just played a heck of a game.”
Jackson Reeves, playing in his first game since injuring his knee two weeks earlier, picked off a Russellville pass late in the third quarter that set up a field goal by Gavin Marsh.
Marsh, who had missed a 33-yarder earlier in the game, nailed the 38-yarder to make it 24-7 with 1:18 remaining in the quarter.
Russellville scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Devin Parker to Darrian Graham with 4:57 left to trim the lead to 10.
After getting the ball back late in the game, the Golden Tigers drove to the Hartselle 1-yard line before getting stopped on a fourth-and-goal play at the 1-yard line to seal the win.

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