Tigers end regular season with 34-14 win
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
FLORENCE – The coach addressed his Hartselle squad just minutes after losing 30-3 to Decatur.
The loss dropped his Tigers to 2-2, yet the coach sounded upbeat. He calmly told his team there were six regular season games left and he was sure they would win all six and reach the state playoffs.
Bob Godsey's bold prediction became reality Friday night at Braly Stadium when Hartselle whipped Florence 34-14. The win capped an 8-2 regular season and was the Tigers' sixth straight triumph.
Despite the 20-point victory, Godsey felt his team was not at the top of their game.
"We'll take this win. We were not as sharp as we would like to be, but we can't complain," Godsey said. "We gave up a couple of scores late, which we really don't like to see. We sputtered a little bit on offense. But, we're 8-2 and we get to go home and play. That's the big thing."
The Tigers took the lead when they drove 63 yards in 10 plays to score on the game's opening drive.
Justin Youngblood scored from 10 yards out. Patrick Whatley added the point-after for a seven-point lead. Quarterback Seth Watson was three-of-five passing for 29 yards on the march.
Following a Jeff Whitt interception at the Hartselle 41-yard line, Youngblood scored again on a 59-yard gallop around the right side. With Whatley's point-after, the Tigers had a 14-0 lead with 3:58 remaining in the opening quarter.
Midway through the second quarter the host Falcons marched 55 yards in nine plays to the Tiger six-yard line.
The drive stalled when on third-and-goal, Hartselle nose guard Joe McClanahan and linebacker Johnny "Moo Moo" Jones combined on a 15-yard sack.
The ball turned back over to the Tigers on downs when Florence gained only three yards on fourth down.
The Tigers then drove 82 yards in 14 plays to take a 20-0 lead.
The drive's key play was a fake punt at the Florence 48, when Youngblood ran for 30 yards to the 18-yard line. Two plays later Watson scrambled and found flanker Chris Wiley in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard scoring strike.
The point-after failed, as Hartselle led by 20 at halftime.
In the second half, Youngblood scored his third touchdown of the night.
He broke free for a 70-yard run on Hartselle's first play from scrimmage of the third period.
Florence answered in the fourth period when Blake Watkins scored from the nine-yard line to end a seven-play 65-yard drive. With the point-after, Hartselle led 27-7.
The Tigers answered back on the next drive, moving 62 yards in 10 plays. 55 yards coming on nine rushing plays. Watson scored from four yards out to cap the drive. Ray Canafax added the point-after for a 34-7 lead.
Youngblood finished with 188 yards on 12 carries to bring his season total to 1,641 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.
He added a touchdown on a reception and two more on kickoff returns for 25 scores.
Florence added another score against Hartselle backups to provide the final 20-point margin.
Hartselle hosts Etowah in a first round 5A-playoff game at JP Cain Stadium Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.