Tigers Soar over Falcons
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. That’s where Hartselle found themselves Friday night. Just one week after edging Cullman 14-13 in a rain game, Hartselle found itself facing another tough region 8 opponent in the Florence Falcons. Without star running back Taylor Easterling, Hartselle knew they would have to be on top of their game and they did just that as the Tigers took it to the Falcons for 48 straight minutes. This game was riddled with playoff implications as the Hartselle Tigers (6-2, 4-1 in region) were fighting to obtain home field advantage while the Florence Falcons ( 3-5, 2-3 in region) were fighting just to make playoffs.
Both teams struggled on their first drives and were forced to punt. Quarterback Jake Tiffin would get things going for the tigers, as he would take two big runs to the tigers 44. Tiffin would then find Zeth Malcolm for a 25-yard pass to get to the Florence 29. Tiffin would also convert a fourth and two on the drive with a valiant second effort. Hartselle would get down to the Florence 9 before stalling out and were forced to use a Beau Nosal field goal to take the 3-0 lead with 2:38 left in the first quarter. Florence would strike back quickly, returning the ensuing Hartselle kick off to the tigers 42. However, the tiger defense would force a three and out to give the ball right back to the offense. Hartselle would punt it back to the falcons who would strike very quickly to get it all the way to the Hartselle 38. Florence’s quarterback would then escape the pocket and scramble for a 38-yard touchdown to give them the 7-3 lead with 9:52 left in the half. Hartselle would not let that last for long though, as Tiffin would connect with Tobias Mitchell for a 51-yard pass to the Florence 26 on the ensuing drive. Tiffin would follow that up by avoiding two Florence defenders to scramble to the Falcons 14. Zane Green would bang it in three plays later to give Hartselle the lead back 10-7. Hartselle would tack on to their lead just before halftime as Tiffin would find Tobias Mitchell once again for a 37 yard touchdown pass to make the lead 17-7 at halftime.
The third quarter featured strong defense by both teams and many punts. Florence did manage to get some momentum as they advanced to the Hartselle 47 to end the third quarter. However, Hartselle would make them punt to begin the fourth quarter. The tigers would then make their only error of the night when Jake Tiffin was picked off and the ball was returned to the tiger 39-yard line. The Hartselle would defense would not bend though as they did not give up a single yard and forced the Falcons to turnover on downs at the 41-yard line. A couple of quick runs by Jake Tiffin would quickly get the tigers into Florence territory once again. Jordan “Cricket” Stover would then bust free for a 23-yard run to get the tigers all the way to the Florence 1 yard line. Stover would bang it in a play later to make the lead 24-7. Hartselle would put the final nail in the coffin when Trent Sivley intercepted the Florence pass in the end zone. Hartselle would win the game 24-7.
After the game, head coach Bob Godsey was very pleased with his team’s performance. “I’m very proud of our guys, they came out here, made plays and got it done” Godsey said “we played great defensively and then when we needed that big drive to finish the game our offense delivered.” Godsey also knows there’s still one big region game left to play. “We have to have the 24 hour rule” Godsey said “very few Hartselle teams have gone into Ogle twice and won, but were going to do it next week.” Senior quarterback Jake Tiffin knows the importance of the win against Florence and their upcoming game. “Its huge. If we win we lock up a home field playoff spot” Tiffin said “the senior class has never played a home playoff game so it’s a big deal.” The current senior class was freshmen the last time Hartselle hosted a playoff game in 2012 so they have never had the opportunity to play in one. That could all change Friday night when Hartselle travels to Ogle stadium to take on the Austin Black Bears.