Tigers take care of business
WEST POINT – No. 2 Hartselle used six first-half touchdowns to cruise to a 44-10 victory over West Point Friday night on the road.
Tiger coach Bob Godsey said he was pleased with his team’s workmanlike attitude the week after back-to-back physically and emotionally draining games against Decatur and Walker.
“The last two weeks were challenging for our team,” Godsey said, “but we were like veterans in the way we handled ourselves out here tonight and through the week of practice.”
Hartselle went right to work after taking the opening kickoff. Deacon Aldridge was sacked on the first play, but West Point tackled him using the facemask. That allowed Hartselle to get out of the hole.
Then Aldridge couldn’t find anyone open. So he tucked it and ran 24 yards, moving the ball into the Warriors’ territory. Aldridge then hooked up with Charleston Williams for the 29-yard touchdown. Gavin Marsh added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:11 left in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt, Aldridge connected with Jeston Thompson on a 48-yard pass to the West Point 3. Then Sidney Steele took the speed sweep handoff and scored from 3 yards out. Marsh’s kick made it 14-0 at the 7:21 mark of the first quarter.
West Point forced Hartselle to go three-and-out, but the Tigers made up for it on the next possession when Masio Stover broke free for the 55-yard touchdown, to make it 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Dax Gillespie then got in on the action as he intercepted West Point quarterback Bryant Farley and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. The extra point failed, but Hartselle led 27-0 with 9:16 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers sent West Point backward on the next possession thanks to a sack on third down, setting up Hartselle on the Warrior 34 after Garrett Fowler’s nice punt return.
Aldridge connected Blaze Lawrimore on a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-0 with 5:30 left in the second stanza.
On the final Tiger drive of the half, Aldridge had runs of 20 and 16 yards to move Hartselle in the red zone. The quarterback then hit Easton Chenault with a 13-yard pass, as the receiver was tackled just short of the goal line. Blake Slayton cleaned it up with a 1-yard score to make it 41-0 with 1:46 left before halftime.
That would be all West Point needed to get on the board. Farley hit Houston Thrailkill on a 26-yard pass. A personal foul penalty on Hartselle moved the ball into scoring range.
Mark Laney hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired to cut the lead to 41-3.
In the second half, Hartselle liberally substituted its players as West Point kept most of its starters in.
“It’s great to be able to get so many of our guys playing time tonight,” Godsey said. “And everybody’s healthy, so that’s a major plus.”
The inexperience showed a little on defense in the third quarter. West Point drove the ball to the Hartselle 37-yard line, running the ball on all but one play. But on the drive’s second fourth-down play, Hartselle forced a fumble, which was recovered by Dalton Jenkins.
The second string offense drove the ball to West Point 18-yard line, thanks to 52-yard run by Masio Stover. Marsh connected on a 35-yard field goal to make it 44-3 with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
West Point put together its best drive of the night after returning the ensuing kickoff back to midfield. The Tigers saw a steady dose of Dalton Wren, who eventually scored the touchdown from 1-yard out. The Laney extra point made the final score 44-10.
Stover led all rushers with 107 yards on just two carries with a touchdown. Aldridge finished with 76 yards on seven carries. D’Andre Mack had 27 yards on eight carries.
Slayton, the workhorse in last week’s win over Decatur, had just three touches for 21 yards.
Godsey said it’s nice to have the No. 2 ranking, but it doesn’t mean anything to his team.
“It’s nice to have people around the state recognize you for what you’ve done, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Godsey said. “We just want to be there when at the end of the season when it counts the most.”
The Tigers will have its homecoming game next Friday at J.P. Cain Stadium. Kickoff has been set for 7 p.m.