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Enquirer photo/Tom Chappell Junior lineman Jackson Boyer makes a tackle on an Austin player in Hartselle's 24-17 victory Friday night.

Tigers claw their way to victory over Austin in season opener

By Sam Roberts

For the Enquirer

Despite falling by three touchdowns in last season’s showdown versus the Black Bears, Hartselle came out firing on all cylinders as a fierce running attack led by the standout senior Keondre Swoopes and   Britten Barclays spearheaded the Tigers’ opening a drive all the way into the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead. But despite a fast start offensively, both defenses stood strong for the remainder of the quarter, with no additional points to be added to the board until Keondre Swoopes returned to the end-zone with a fourteen yard touchdown run capping off a drive with Luke Godsey connecting with Braxton Miller on back-to-back long completions bringing the Tigers inside the red-zone. Austin then answered the momentum with a five play drive and a two yard touchdown run by Reddy Steward late in the second quarter.

The Black Bear defense went on to shut down the Tigers offense yet again and finished off the first half with a twenty yard field goal, trimming their deficit to only four heading into the locker room.

Enquirer photo/Tom Chappell

Austin took the ball to start the second half, and didn’t waste any time as a three play possession ended with a 45 yard touchdown pass to Quincy Crittendon, giving the visiting Black Bears a 17-14 lead early in the second half and held on to the advantage until Hartselle knocked in a 35 yard field goal to open up the final quarter.

Fast forward to just minutes left in the game, and the Tigers drive down the field led by a big run from Brinten Bradley and a punch into the end zone as the Tigers regained the lead. After retaining possession, the Black Bears drove the ball the way to the Hartselle 13 yard line, but a tackle for loss by Adam Hampton as the clock expires prevails Hartselle and the Tigers walk away with a victory on opening night.

Enquirer photo/Tom Chappell