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Falcons pull away from Tigers in second half

FLORENCE – Florence showed Hartselle why it’s one of the top teams in Class 6A after the Falcons turned a 3-3 tie at the half into a 25-3 rout in a key region matchup at Braly Stadium.

The Falcons (8-1, 5-0) will travel to Decatur next week for a chance to clinch the region title.

However, the Tigers (5-3, 2-3) still control their playoff destiny. A win over Austin Oct. 24 and the Tigers will likely clinch the No. 4 seed.

“We’re going into next week with the belief that we’re going to win and get in the playoffs,” Godsey said. “We came in here tonight with the belief we were going to win, but we just didn’t make the plays we needed.”

The Tigers couldn’t take advantage of its chances, especially in the first half. The Tigers had ball inside Florence territory three times, but could only muster a Cody Salem field goal with 10:45 left in the second quarter.

A 37-yard passing play led to a 36-yard field goal with 3:31 left in the first half.

Lane Anders knocked a pass away in the end zone as time expired in the first half to preserve the 3-3 tie.

Then, the Falcons were able to take advantage of big plays to score three touchdowns in the second half.

The turning point came on the opening kickoff of the second half, as the Falcons returned the kick 58 yards to the Hartselle 10. On fourth-and-goal, the Falcons converted with a 1-yard touchdown at the 9:58 mark of the third quarter.

“We can’t give up a big kickoff return to open the second half,” Godsey said. “You can’t drop passes in the end zone. They’re an excellent team and when you play against a great opponent, you’ve got to make those plays. We have a very small margin of error.

“We played as hard as we can and we didn’t give up. We’re going to go back and see if we can rebound next week,” Godsey added.

Florence appeared headed for another score, driving to the 1-yard line, but Holden Langston recovered a fumble on the goal line to end the threat.

The Tigers, however, couldn’t move it from there, as Florence tackled Hartselle in the end zone for a safety.

Florence added to the lead with a 1-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 18-3 at the end of the third quarter.

The Falcons added a touchdown on a 25-yard pass with 4:08 to play.

The Tigers didn’t give up, driving all the way to the Florence 10 before turning the ball over on downs.

Jake Tiffin finished with 166 yards completing 17 of 31 passes. Tobias Mitchell racked up 81 yards on four receptions while Jamal Jackson had 48 yards on five catches.

Taylor Easterling added 46 yards on 17 carries while Tiffin also rushed nine times for 29 yards.

The Tigers failed on all three fourth down attempts while converting only 3 of 10 third down attempts.

After failing on their first three third downs, Florence converted five of the next six third down plays.

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