All Too Easy

Hartselle awaits playoff fate after trouncing Columbia

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

In a game where the Hartselle Tigers desperately needed something positive, the Tigers delivered an emphatic statement. Hartselle was coming off two home region losses to Decatur and Austin and an offense that had been lighting up the scoreboard had grown flat the past two games. Hartselle needed to get back on track and the Tigers delivered with a 44 point blasting of Columbia.

Hartselle didn’t get off to the greatest start as the Tigers went three and out on their first possession. However, on their second drive, quarterback Trevor Oakes connected with Connor Burks three times, including a 24-yard throw, to move inside the Columbia 20. Running back Keondre Swoopes would run it in a few plays later to give Hartselle the 7-0. After forcing a punt, Hartselle picked up right where they left off. Oakes connected with Seth Garner for strikes of 50 and 25 yards to move to the Columbia 10. Taylor Easterling would finish the drive with a 10 yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

The Tigers would keep their foot on the pedal for the rest of the half. Oakes connected with Garrett Wade and then carried the ball himself to get inside the Eagles’ 25. A few plays later and Oakes found Wade again as Wade leaped over a defensive back for the score. The big plays would keep coming as Easterling carried the ball 21 yards on the next drive to the Columbia 29. Hartselle finished the drive with another Oakes to Garner connection, this time for a 29 yard score to give the Tigers the lead 28-0. Hartselle would have one more chance to score before halftime when the Tigers recovered a fumble at the Columbia 12 yard line. With 50 seconds left. However, Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey elected to take a knee and go to halftime.

As the second half started, the defense took their turn in making some big plays. Keondre Swoopes and Andrew Nuss would both pick off passes with Swoopes returning his all the way to the Columbia 25. Hartselle would tack on two more touchdowns in the half. Easterling would get his second score of the night on a 7 yard carry and then Luke Godsey would call his own number at quarterback and scamper in for a score, which included putting a spin move on a defensive back, to put the Tigers up 42-0. The final score would come as Hartselle forced a safety on a botched punt. The Tigers went on to win 44-0.

“It’s been a good year as we finish the regular season 8-2 with playing in the toughest division which includes the SEC west” Hartselle Head Coach Bob Godsey said, “We still have some things we need to work on.” The Tigers will get the added edge of having a bye next week before playoffs start in two weeks. The Tigers goal is to get healthy after a grinding season filled with injuries. “The biggest thing for us is to get healthy. It’s been a revolving door at times this year with injuries and I applaud our young guys and our coaches for getting them ready” Godsey said, “We’ve made the decision that were going approach this week lightly and hopefully we will be refreshed come playoffs. We felt that the past two years we’ve just been gassed going into the postseason.”

Hartselle will have to play the waiting game as they take on the bye week. The Tigers currently sit at third but that could change. A Decatur loss to Muscle Shoals would put the Tigers in a three way tie for second and a Decatur loss along with an Austin loss to Athens would put them in a four way tie for first.

Player(s) of the game: The team. In a game like this, there is no way to name just one player. Hartselle dominated the game from start to finish and put together a complete game after a rocky past two weeks. Hartselle running back Taylor Easterling was glad to see his team get back on track. “We just worked hard and made it a grind this week at practice” Easterling said “now we have two extra weeks to prepare for playoffs and hopefully we can get a win.”

 

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