Tigers ground Golden Eagles
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
When he was a college player in the 1930s, Vince Lombardi was part of a Fordham offensive line which was known for their toughness. The line became known as the "Seven Blocks of Granite."
Later, as head coach of Green Bay, Lombardi's teams were known for hard-nosed offensive lines, which led the Packers to five NFL championships.
If Lombardi could have seen the performance of the Hartselle offensive line against Athens last Friday, he surely would have been proud of the way they played.
The Tigers showed how tough and hard-nosed they could be when they led the offense on a 67-yard march, all on the ground, for the go-ahead touchdown in a 31-20 win over the Athens Golden Eagles.
"That last drive is something as a coach that makes you really, really proud," Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey said. "That's why you do all that work in the summer and you ask the kids to work so hard in practice. So you can take the ball when you're behind, and just take it right down the field."
Trailing 20-17, the Tigers had the ball at their own 33 with 6:50 left to play. Quarterback Seth Watson ran left for 11 yards on the first down.
Watson carried again on the next play for 12 yards to the Athens 46-yard line. Justin Youngblood then gained two yards to the 44.
Youngblood ran for eight more yards on second down to the 36. Next, fullback Gary Orr got three yards behind center to pick up a Tiger first down to the 33.
Youngblood gained nine yards on first down to the 24. Watson then got three around left end for another first down at the 21.
Youngblood ran through a gapping hole up the middle for 14 more yards to the seven.
On first and goal, Youngblood sweep the right side and scored the go-ahead touchdown.
With the point-after, Hartselle led 24-20 with 2:55 to play.
Nine plays, all on the ground as the Hartselle line dominated the Athens defensive front.
"We stayed with the run because it was working," Godsey said.
"We challenged our guys up front to get it done-and they did."
On Athens' next possession, the Hartselle defense put the game away.
After signaling for a safety because of intentional grounding in the end zone, the officials changed their call and ruled incomplete pass.
The reversal led to the game-clinching touchdown, when Athens quarterback Rob Ezell threw toward receiver Nick Pickett on the left sideline, but Hartselle's Chris Wiley leaped to make the interception and proceeded to return the pick 28 yards for a score.
In the opening half after both teams had scored a field goal on their opening drive, the Golden Eagles scored 10 unanswered points to take a 13-3 lead with five minutes left before halftime.
Hartselle answered moving 60 yards in 13 plays to cut the lead to three points.
Youngblood scored from three yards out with just over a minute to play.
Watson completed three third down pass for 33 yards on the drive.
The Tigers took their first lead of the night midway through the third period when they marched 86 yards in 11 plays to take a 17-13 lead.
The only pass thrown on the drive went for a three-yard touchdown from Watson to Wiley.
The drive's key play was a 42-yard run by Youngblood from the Hartselle 21-yard line to the Athens 37.
Athens then answered with a nine-play 62-yard drive ending with an Ezell one-yard run.
Youngblood finished the night with 175 yards on 27 carries. Watson added 54 yards on six carries.
The win upped the Tiger record to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in 5A, Region 8 play. With one more region win the Tigers will clinch a playoff berth.