Red Raiders stun Tigers
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
Three plays. Three big plays were the difference. The No. 5 ranked Decatur Red Raiders used a kickoff return for touchdown and two long scoring passes to whip the Hartselle Tigers 30-3 Friday night.
"We let it get out of hand on three plays," Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said. "No one means to let those happen, but sometimes they happen in big games. We got beat by a great football team, but you can't give up big plays and expect to compete with a team as good as Decatur."
After forcing a Tiger punt on the game's opening possession, Decatur drove 62 yards in 12 plays to take a 6-0 lead. The drive ended on a one-yard run by quarterback Steven Leach. The point-after kick sailed wide right with 5:46 left in the opening quarter.
Hartselle answered with a marathon 21-play 74-yard drive, which ended with a Patrick Whatley field goal from 21 yards out. The kick cut the Red Raider lead in half, at 6-3 with 9:18 remaining until halftime. The Tigers converted three-of-four times on third down during the march.
Neither team would score again in the opening half. Decatur threatened when they drove 43 yards to the Hartselle five-yard line, but on the next play, linebacker Michael Scott caused a fumble, which was recovered by the Tigers' Johnny Jones.
Then came the first of the Red Raiders three big plays, when Jerraud Powers returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards up the right sideline for a score. With the point-after, Decatur led 13-3.
After forcing a Hartselle punt on the next series of plays, the Red Raiders went on an 80-yard drive for another touchdown.
On third down and 34 yards to go, Leach passed 49 yards to Powers for a Decatur score. With the point-after, it was 20-3 Decatur with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
After another Hartselle punt, the Decatur took the air again and scored on a 48-yard from Leach to Earnest Watkins with 1:36 left in the third. With the point-after, Decatur had sealed the verdict at 27-3.
Decatur would add a field goal with just over six minutes to play to make the final, 30-3.
The Hartselle offense couldn't sustain a drive in the second half of play, gaining only four first downs in the final 24 minutes of the game.