Balanced Tigers sink Pirates
Hartselle (11-0) looked exactly like the Class 5A No. 2 team should during a 52-13 win over Boaz in the first round of the playoffs Friday night.
The Tigers scored early and often, as the offense had one of its most balanced efforts of the year. They had 202 yards passing and 204 yards rushing while the defense turned in another dominating performance.
“We just took care of business once again,” said Hartselle coach Bob Godsey. “We passed it a little more than we have – maybe not more than we’d like to – but we were just taking what the defense gave us. They walked guys up in the box and it left us with one-on-one match-ups with our receivers and we took advantage of that.”
Quarterback Deacon Aldridge turned in an efficient performance with 202 yards on 10 of 15 passes with a touchdown. He also had 88 yards rushing on just three carries, two of which went for touchdowns.
Those passes benefited receivers Jeston Thompson and Sidney Steele. Thompson had two catches for 61 yards with a touchdown and also had 6-yard touchdown run on a speed sweep for Hartselle’s first touchdown.
Steele didn’t get in the end zone, but he had 79 yards on six receptions. He and Aldridge connected on a 42-yard pass that set up Thompson’s run.
Fresh off a 289-yard performance last week, Boaz’s Tyler Martin showed just how he was able to do that. On third-and-12, Martin took the pitch and was met at the line by the Hartselle defense.
However, Martin broke a few tackles and ran the other way 62 yards for the touchdown. The extra point failed leaving Hartselle with a 7-6 lead with 6:44 in the first quarter. Martin finished with 116 yards on 18 carries.
“(Martin) is a good running back,” Godsey said. “He’s kind of a slippery runner. He broke a few tackles there to get that score, but we did a pretty good job containing him the rest of the way.”
That’s as close as it got.
Aldridge then scored twice on the option keeper, one from 27 yards out and the other from 52 yards away. That made it 21-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers’ next drive stalled in the red zone, but Gavin Marsh connected on a 29-yard field goal to extend the lead to 24-6.
After forcing a three-and-out, Aldridge and Thompson connected on a 51-yard touchdown to make it 31-6 midway through the second.
Aldridge connected with Slayton on the next drive for 36 yards to set up Masio Stover’s 13-yard touchdown run to make it 38-6 at halftime. Slayton also had 36 yards rushing on eight carries.
The starters came back for one final possession to start the third quarter. The drive was set up by a defensive stop, in which Waid Miller and Jordan Orr snuffed out the halfback pass and dropped Martin for a loss on third down.
Stover, who had 38 yards on eight carries, capped off the 12-play, 59-yard drive with a 1-yard run to make it 45-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Miller then intercepted a Boaz pass and returned it 31 yards to the Pirate 2-yard line. Tanner Oaks carried it in on the next play to make it 52-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Boaz took advantage of a Hartselle fumble to get on the board again. Wesley Burns connected with Morgan Neal on a 23-yard pass play, the Pirates’ only successful pass of the night. Tez Jacobs ran for a 3-yard touchdown. Leonardo Aragon added the extra point to make the final score 52-13.
With the win, Hartselle travels to Pinson Valley (9-2), which defeated East Limestone 42-28 Friday night on the road. The Tigers won a hard-fought 35-27 game with the Indians last year in the first round of the playoffs.
While Godsey hasn’t seen much film on the Indians, he knows the Tigers will have to compete with Pinson’s athleticism.
“We played them last year and they’ve got a lot of athletes,” Godsey said. “It will be a tough game, but the big thing is that we’re still playing next week.”