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Tigers finish perfect regular season

Hartselle’s Tigers rushed for 448 yards to beat Austin 42-14 Thursday night and finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record.

Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said it might have been a surprise that Hartselle could achieve this feat coming into the season, but it wasn’t to his team and coaching staff.

“I’m just proud of our seniors to finish this regular season undefeated,” Godsey said. “Nobody really thought we’d be in this position at the start of the season after losing so many guys from last year’s team. But we believed in each other.”

The Tigers were dominant on the ground even that without the team’s leading rusher, Blake Slayton, who was held out of the game with a bruised leg. Coaches made a game-time decision to hold him out especially with next week’s playoff game with Boaz coming up.

“He wasn’t ready to go tonight,” Godsey said. “He probably would have been ready to go if we’d played tomorrow night. He practiced on Monday and we thought he might be ready to go, but we decided to hold him out. I think he’ll be back next week.”

Masio Stover picked up the slack, as he gained 217 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns. His first score, a 13-yard run, capped off the opening 80-yard, six-play drive. Gavin Marsh added the extra point to make it 7-0.

Austin answered with an eight-play, 56-yard drive. Christopher Sparkman scored from two yards out. Matt Pensa added the extra point to tie the game.

The Black Bears muffed a Hartselle punt, which was recovered by Thomas Fleischman. Deacon Aldridge scored the first of two touchdowns, this time from 3 yards out to give Hartselle a 14-7 lead at the 11:31 mark of the second quarter.

Stover’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run, capped off an 11-play, 57-yard drive to give Hartselle a 21-7 lead.

The last score of the half came on Jeston Thompson’s 57-yard speed sweep. Thompson had 66 yards rushing and also caught a 7-yard pass.

Sparkman hit Josh Walker on a 57-yard pass for the second play of the half. A pass interference penalty then gave Austin a first-and-goal a the Hartselle 10. However, the Tiger defense made its stand. Waid Miller shot through the Austin line and tackled Seth Lynch at the 1-yard line on fourth down to end the threat.

The Tigers then drove 99 yards on just six plays. Stover picked up 70 yards on just two carries during the drive. Blaze Lawrimore also had a 19-yard gain. He finished with 41 yards on three carries.

Aldridge scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard run to make it 35-7. Aldridge finished with 41 yards on nine carries.

After holding Austin on fourth down again in Tiger territory, Sidney Steele used the same speed sweep play to score a 61-yard touchdown, to finish Hartselle’s scoring for the night. Steele also had a 55-yard kickoff return.

Austin then added a touchdown with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter. Sparkman hit Malique Elliott for a 9-yard scoring strike. Sparkman was 18 of 30 for 230 yards passing for the game. Walker was the leading receiver with 93 yards on four catches while Elliott had 86 yards on eight catches.

Looking ahead to Boaz, Godsey said he didn’t know much about their team.

“We’re going to go scout them tomorrow night and come up with a game plan,” Godsey said.

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