Hartselle can’t put away Russellville
RUSSELLVILLE – Five turnovers by No. 8 Hartselle (6-3, 5-2) allowed the Russellville Golden Tigers (7-2, 5-2) to knock the Hartselle Tigers 6-3 Friday night.
Coach Bob Godsey said Hartselle’s turnovers, including three fumbles in the fourth quarter, were the difference in the game.
“The turnovers allowed them to hang around,” Godsey said. “They made two big plays and won the game, but you have to give Russellville credit.
“Our defense played great the whole game except for two big plays. I don’t know what happened on the third-and-29 play. Sometimes those things just happen, but if we don’t turn it over, we win this game pretty easily.”
The loss coupled with Cullman’s loss to Muscle Shoals creates a three-way tie for second place. Hartselle must defeat Austin in order to win second place. Otherwise, Hartselle will likely be traveling to Fort Payne in the opening round of the state playoffs.
It appeared like Jack Waterman’s 28-yard field goal near the end of the first half would be the difference in the game.
Russellville had just 120 total offensive yards for the game, but 69 of them came on just two plays. The Golden Tigers were facing a third-and-29 with three minutes to go.
That’s when quarterback Landon Smothers put up a prayer to wide receiver Bud Coleman. Even though the pass was nearly picked, Coleman came up with the reception and then got to the first down marker.
Then on fourth-and-4, Smothers hooked up with a wide-open C.J. Posey, who raced 40 yards to the end zone with 2:03 to play. The extra point failed, leaving Hartselle needing just a field goal to force overtime.
Hartselle converted a third down and fourth down on their final drive. Preston Adams and D’Andre Mack caught passes from Deacon Aldridge to keep Hartselle’s hopes alive.
But facing third-and-10 at the 18-yard line with 46 second left, a Russellville sack and forced fumble by was recovered by Jalen Scott, his second recovery of the quarter.
Russellville took a knee to run out the final seconds to pull off the improbable 6-3 win.
Hartselle had numerous chances to put the game out of reach, not including the fourth quarter turnovers.
The Tiger offense drove the ball all the way to the Russellville 4-yard line in the second quarter, but a fumble on fourth-and-1 ended that opportunity.
Masio Stover recovered a fumble on Russellville’s first possession of the second half, but Hartselle couldn’t do anything with it, turning it over on downs.
Hartselle had its second drive of the third quarter end at the Russellville 30, when they couldn’t convert a fourth down play.
Both teams had trouble holding on to the football, partially due to the sudden change to cold, breezy conditions hours before kickoff. The afternoon high temperatures were in the 80s but quickly dropped to near 50 degrees by kickoff with a wind gusting as high as 20 mph.
However, the Hartselle didn’t handle the conditions as well down the stretch, and despite a fumble in the first drive of the second half, Russellville was able to hang on to it when it counted.