The Curse Is Broken

Hartselle dominates Albertville to advance past first round for first time since 2012

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

The message was clear for the Hartselle Tigers. It’s the same message the Tigers have been preaching to each other since the offseason began back in January, get past the first round of the playoffs. That task has proven to be difficult for Hartselle in recent years. Since 2013, Hartselle has gone on the road in the first round and come away with a loss each time. Most of the games were very close with Hartselle losing to Pinson Valley in overtime in 2013 and suffering a comeback loss to Homewood in 2014. For whatever reason, the Tigers could just not seem to get over that hump. However, that all changed when Hartselle traveled to Albertville on Fri. Nov, 4th.

Albertville would get the jumpstart on Hartselle first as the Tigers showed some stiffness from not playing in two weeks. Albertville moved into Hartselle territory quickly with quarterback Will Appleton converting a third and six to the Tiger 16. A few plays later and Jacob Dendy ran it in to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead.

After forcing a three and out, Albertville would again start to move the ball down the field with ease. The Aggies would convert a third down to move into the Tiger’s redzone. However, Hartselle safety Jackson Terry would get an interception in the endzone to end the Aggies threat and give Hartselle new life. The Tiger’s offense would immediately start to move down the field as quarterback Trevor Oakes connected with Seth Garner, Luke Godsey and Mac Meyer. Hartselle would finish the drive when Taylor Easterling broke a 22 yard run and dived for the pylon to tie the game 7-7.

The rest of the half would feature crucial mistakes by Hartselle followed by heroic saves. The Tigers would move the ball into Aggie territory but their drive would end when Oakes’ pass was intercepted when the ball was tipped off the foot of a non-looking receiver. The Tigers would force a punt but Hartselle would again throw an interception, this time deep in their own territory. Albertville would move to the Hartselle 12 but Terry would come up with another huge play to force a field goal try which was missed and sent the game into halftime tied 7-7.

As the second half began, so did Hartselle’s domination. Keondre Swoopes would carry 3 times for 55 yards and a score on one drive to put Hartselle up 14-7. Meanwhile, Hartselle’s defense became Will Appleton’s biggest nightmare as they began to live in the Aggie backfield. Andrew Nuss would come up with another huge interception and return it to the Aggie 30. Easterling would take it 26 yards inside the Aggie 10, and then Oakes found Mac Meyer for the score to put Hartselle up 21-7. Hartselle went on to win 21-7 and punched their ticket to the second round for the first time since 2012.

The Tiger defense destroyed the Aggies in the trenches in the second half. Albertville’s only trip into Hartselle territory was when the Tigers shanked a punt. The defense finished with 6 sacks, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. Caleb Meyer tallied four sacks himself. Trevor Oakes finished the night 19 for 27 passing with 138 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Taylor Easterling led in rushing with 92 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

After the game, Hartselle Head Coach Bob Godsey was very pleased with his team. “I’m proud of these guys. We were a little tight early on but these guys just keep fighting.” Godsey said. “It’s a big win for these seniors to finally get that first round monkey off our shoulders. It’s been a tough three years but these guys have fought hard for this.” Hartselle will host Minor next week on Veteran’s day.

Player of the game. Jackson Terry. In a game where Hartselle’s defense dominated, Terry lit the spark. Terry’s interception gave the Tiger’s life when they had no answer and his third down tackle for loss helped Hartselle get a huge stop before halftime which helped them carry momentum into the locker room.

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