Taylor Easterling rushes for yardage. | Caleb Suggs

Hartselle’s nightmare at Ogle continues

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

It’s possible that Ogle Stadium could live to haunt the 2017 Hartselle Tigers. Just last week Hartselle was defeated 28-6 by the Austin Black Bears. This week Hartselle made a return trip to take on the stadium’s actual host the Decatur Red Raiders. In what was almost a must win for the Tigers, Hartselle came up short. The 2017 season started as a season with much promise, but it has turned into a nightmare season for the Tigers.

Decatur opened the game by marching down the field 80 yards. The drive almost stalled early on, but Decatur quarterback Trentin Dupper escaped on a third and 12 to keep the drive alive. The Red Raiders took the lead 7-0 when Dupper connected with Damian Moore on a bootleg pass.

Things only got worse for the Hartselle Tigers on their first possession as quarterback Luke Godsey was picked off by Decatur linebacker and Auburn commit Josh Marsh, who proceeded to return the ball to the Hartselle 32.

Dupper later worked his magic again as het got out of a fourth and 10 with a 22-yard scramble to the Hartselle nine-yard line. Two plays later and Colin Smiley rushed in for the score to make it 14-7.

Hartselle finally got it going on their next drive when Taylor Easterling kicked it off with a 15 yard run. The Tigers added six more run plays and capped the drive off when Keondre Swoopes rushed from 21 yards out to cut the lead to 14-7.

The story of the night would quickly become Decatur’s offense. The Raiders wiggled out of another third and long, this time with a 33-yard screen pass from Dupper to Jacoby Chatman. That play would set up another touchdown as Josh Marsh ran it in three plays later to put the Raiders up 21-7 at halftime.

Hartselle opened the second half needing a score badly. The Tigers got into Decatur territory thanks to a late hit penalty and then they converted a third and long with a 13-yard pass from Godsey to Riley Wood. On the next play, Godsey got Hartselle to the Decatur 5 with a 13 yard run. However, the Tigers went backwards with a loss of nine yards on a fumbled option pitch. Hartselle eventually turned over on downs after two incomplete passes, and Decatur would tack on a field goal to make the lead 24-7.

Hartselle did get on the board again when Swoopes found the endzone for the second time in the game. The play was set up by a heads up play on a fourth down fake punt conversion by Taylor Easterling. However, the Tigers would still fall 24-13 to the Raiders.

The loss to Decatur puts the Tigers, who are now 5-4 and 2-4 in region play, in significant danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Hartselle will need help from Hazel Green next week to get in. The Trojans would need to upset the Florence Falcons for Hartselle to have a chance to get in.

Decatur’s win over Hartselle was the first time a team has won back to back games in this rivalry since 2009-10,and also the first time the home team has won since 2010.

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