Hartselle gets final tune-up for Cullman
KIMBERLY – No. 2 Hartselle outgained Mortimer Jordan 478-156 in total offense as the Tigers earned an efficient 49-13 win over the home-standing Blue Devils.
The win sets up a de facto region championship game in Cullman next week between the Tigers (8-0, 6-0) and the Bearcats (7-1, 6-0).
Hartselle coach Bob Godsey praised his team’s its focus this week with the big game looming next week. The Tigers played nearly perfect on offense in the first half, scoring on six of their first seven drives.
After giving up a 73-yard touchdown run to Mortimer Jordan’s Marquis Dobbs, the Tiger defense only allowed 83 yards the rest of the game.
“I think our team really did a great job of staying focused on this week’s game. Everybody knows who we play next week,” Godsey said. “That was about the best first half as we’ve played all year especially on offense. Even though we gave up the big play on their first drive, the defense did well. It just gives Coach Peck something to work on next week.”
Blake Slayton, who finished with 115 yards on only five carries, put Hartselle up 7-0 with a 33-yard touchdown run 69 seconds into the game.
Dobbs answered 21 seconds later with a 73-yard touchdown on the Blue Devils’ first play from scrimmage. That was the first touchdown given up by the Tigers on the opponents’ first drive this year. Hartselle tackled the holder after MJHS botched the snap on the extra point, leaving the Tigers with a 7-6 lead.
Three plays later, Hartselle responded with the first of three Deacon Aldridge touchdowns, this time a 40-yard strike to Slayton. The Tiger running back had 150 yards on just three offensive touches. Gavin Marsh’s extra point made it 14-6 at the 9:20 mark of the first quarter.
From there, Hartselle left MJHS in the dust. After forcing a three-and-out, Slayton broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run. Then, Aldridge scrambled for a 15-yard touchdown on third-and-long.
Those two scores gave Hartselle a 28-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Hartselle’s only offensive miscue was a fumbled option pitch on the second quarter’s first play. MJHS’s Caleb Gandy recovered the fumble to give the Blue Devils the ball in Hartselle territory.
But the Hartselle defense stiffened once again, forcing Jordan to punt.
From there, the Tigers put together an impressive 12-play, 85-yard drive that consumed more than five minutes with a good mixture of running and passing. Aldridge connected with Preston Adams for the second passing score of the game, making it 35-6 at the 4:43 mark of the second quarter.
Two minutes later, Aldridge connected with Sidney Steele for a 41-yard touchdown to make the halftime score 42-6. Aldridge finished 9-for-11 for 130 yards passing and 108 yards rushing on nine carries.
The final scores of the game came late in the third quarter. With the backups in the game, a Hartselle snap went over the quarterback’s head. Mortimer Jordan’s Franklin Kennedy picked up the fumble and returned it 35 yards for the touchdown, the extra point by Jerry Byrom made it 42-13 at the 2:38 mark of the third stanza.
On the ensuing kickoff, Sidney Steele took the line drive kick at the 14-yard line and went 86 yards for the touchdown. Marsh’s final PAT made the final 49-13.
In addition to Aldridge and Slayton’s success, Masio Stover added 76 yards on eight carries. Steele finished with 58 yards on four catches. D’Andre Mack added 39 yards on six carries.
Dobbs accounted for 117 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to lead Mortimer Jordan.
Hartselle limited MJHS to its lowest point total of the season, a team that had scored at least 20 in all seven previous games.
Godsey accounted that to their success up front.
“You win games by running the football and stopping the run,” Godsey said, “and all except for one play, we did a great job of that.”
While the Tigers will face off against Cullman for the region championship, the Blue Devils will travel to Hayden with a chance to earn a playoff berth.