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Hartselle's Parker Sawyer dives into the endzone for the Tigers first touchdown of the game against Mae Jemison. Special to the Enquirer/James Meadows

Hartselle picks up first win of Bryan Moore era

The Hartselle Tigers picked up the first win of the Bryan Moore era on Thursday night when they defeated the Mae Jemison Jaguars 34-14.

The win was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the community following the news of 242 students and staff in Hartselle City Schools, including 135 at the high school were in quarantine following 14 positive COVID-19 tests across the system.

The Tigers put the distractions behind them when they stepped onto the JP Cain Stadium field and turned their focus to the visiting Jaguars.

The game got off to a rocky start as Mae Jemison took the opening kickoff and reeled off first downs on their first three plays while gaining 40 yards. After a fourth first down on the drive, the Tiger defense got a huge play from Brian Tolbert, who recovered a Terrence Robinson fumble on the Hartselle 34-yard line.

“Our defense needed to catch up with the Mae Jemison offense’s speed,” said Hartselle coach Bryan Moore. “Once we got accustomed to the speed, we were able to make force the Jaguars into the mistake and get a stop.”

The Tigers turned the turnover into the game’s first points as they went 66 yards in 14 plays. The drive was capped off by a Parker Sawyer 12-yard run for a touchdown. Sawyer ran for 33 yards on three carries in the drive. Following the extra point, the Tigers led 7-0 with 2:44 left in the first.

The Hartselle defense came up with stops on the next two Mae Jemison drives. The Tigers held the Jaguars to -11 yards on their second drive of the game as they forced the second fumble by Robinson, which he recovered.

Following a Hartselle punt, the defense picked up their second sack of the game as Seth Lockett and Kelvin Morris combined to sack Robinson for a two-yard loss. After a three-yard run, Robinson had his third-down pass tipped by Traece Oden and picked off by Eli Snelson at the Jemison 33-yard line.

The Tigers marched 33 yards, all on the ground, to turn the second Jaguar turnover into their second touchdown of the first half. Following a 21-yard run by Ri Fletcher, Mookie Moore carried the ball on five consecutive plays and finally punched it in from the 1-yard line to give Hartselle a 14-0 lead with 6:37 left in the second.

Hartselle capitalized on their final scoring chance of the first half as Sawyer punched it in from four yards out with just 9.5 seconds on the clock. A defensive stop and a Mae Jemison shanked punt gave the Tigers the ball at the 30-yard line. On the first play, Sawyer connected with R. Fletcher for 26 yards down the Hartselle sideline. The Tigers went into halftime leading 21-0.

The second half saw the Tigers put points on the board on two of their four drives.

They scored their fourth touchdown of the game following a third Jaguar turnover, a muffed punt that was recovered by Tevin Shields at the Jemison 30 yard line. Following a 30-yard pass play from Sawyer to Izayah Fletcher, M. Moore scored his second touchdown on a one-yard plunge giving the Tigers a 27-0 lead.

Following a fourth-down stop, the Tigers would add their final score of the night. R. Fletcher scored on a three-yard run to cap off an eight-play, 35-yard drive. The drive’s big play was a Sawyer 15-yard pass to Sage Smothers that set up the touchdown run. Following the extra point, the Tigers led 34-0.

Mae Jemison would add two scores late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 34-14.

“We executed better this week than in our first game of the season,” said Moore. “Everybody played at a higher-level tonight, which allowed us to hit big plays and get timely stops.”

The Hartselle offense had a total of 252 yards in the games. They finished with 152 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.

“The offensive line played well tonight,” said Moore. “Their play allowed the offense to move the ball and make plays.”

The defense allowed 250 total yards with 147 in the final quarter as Mae Jemison held onto the ball for over nine and a half minutes. They forced three fumbles and recovered two while intercepting one Mae Jemison pass and picking up three sacks.

Hartselle (1-1) will open region play next week as they host Cullman on September 4th.

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