Hartselle clinches home-field advantage in playoffs with 23-6 win over Cullman
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
Make it six consecutive wins for the Hartselle Tigers, who defeated the Cullman Bearcats 23-6 Friday in a Class 5A, Region 8 battle.
The win secures second place in the region and means at least a first-round playoff game at home.
"This means a lot," senior offensive lineman Brett Byford said. "This win was over a big rival, and that feels good."
Ben Atchinson agrees.
"This feels good," the senior linebacker said. "The first round playoff game here will be awesome."
Perhaps many would say the Hartselle defense was "awesome."
After allowing Cullman (6-3, 4-3) to drive the length of the field and take a 6-0 advantage late in the first quarter, the Hartselle (7-2, 6-1) defense bowed up.
For the game, the Tigers limited Cullman, a normally high-powered offense, to just 44 yards on the ground and 181 through the air.
"The defense did a great job," Hartselle head coach Mike Smith said. "I can't say enough about this team. We had a lot of things go bad for us in the first half, but we found a way to suck it up, put it behind us and play well."
Things did go wrong for the Tigers early, including falling behind for the second consecutive week.
Hartselle fell behind Athens 7-0 two weeks ago, and Friday night the Tigers fell behind 6-0 after a three-play, 74-yard drive ended with a score.
Cullman quarterback Josh Phillips found Adam Munger for a 14-yard scoring strike. A 48-yard pass from Phillips to Zayne Smith and a 15-yard personal foul penalty set up the touchdown.
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