Hartselle falls to Russellville, 35-21
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
It was the best of times, then it was the worst of times.
It was the tale of two halves.
The Hartselle Tigers matched touchdown for touchdown and actually led second-ranked Russellville in the first half, but the second half told a much different story.
Hartselle lost the Class 5A, Region 8 battle 35-21, after gaining only 23 yards in the second half with one first down.
"In the second half, they (Russellville) kept doing what they had been doing – they just got better at it," Hartselle head coach Mike Smith said. "They eventually wore us down."
In the first half, it was Hartselle wearing down Russellville – at least mentally.
Senior quarterback Jake Tompkins led the Golden Tigers 76 yards down the field to open the game. He eventually scored on a quarterback keeper for three yards.
Tompkins, though, was not the only quarterback on the field Friday night.
Hartselle's Kevin Jones, who completed 7 of 8 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown and rushed 15 times for 73 yards, answered Tompkins run with one of his own.
On first and 10 near midfield, Jones called his own number on the option and raced 52 yards for the score.
"He really made some good plays out there," Smith said of Jones.
The senior quarterback's stats have been more impressive with every game this season, according to Smith.
"He's the kind of kid who wants to get better," Smith said. "He takes the film home to study every night. There's not one player on this team that can call him lazy."
Tompkins took control of his team on its next possession, completing a 27-yard pass to Curtis Hamilton. Three plays later on third and 3, Tompkins sprinted 59 yards to the endzone, giving Russellville the lead.
Smith said he was impressed with Tompkins' play.
"Tompkins is the real deal," Smith said. "He can run. He can throw and he makes good decisions."
But again, the Tigers answered.
With 10:12 remaining in the first half, Jeremy Orr scored his only touchdown of the night. After the eight-yard scamper and the extra point, the contest was tied at 14.
After forcing Russellville to punt on its next possession, Hartselle took its only lead.
See TIGERS, B-3