Hartselle falls to Fort Payne 24-17 to end their season
Hartselle’s season came to an end Friday night with a 24-17 loss to Fort Payne in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Fort Payne got on the scoreboard first with a three-yard touchdown run by Hunter Love to take a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers would force a Fort Payne turnover on their second possession of the game. The Wildcat fumble was recovered by the Tigers’ Drew Cartee.
Hartselle would turn the turnover into points just moments later, when Crawford Lang connected on a 28-yard field goal. The kick would make the score 7-3.
The Tigers’ next drive ended when a Cal George pass was intercepted late in the first quarter to give Fort Payne excellent field position at the Tigers’ 18-yard line.
The Wildcats scored three plays later on a one-yard plunge. The score gave Fort Payne a 14-3 lead with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
The defenses would dominate much of the second quarter as the teams combined to pick up two first downs through the first seven minutes of the quarter.
Cartee recovered his second fumble of the game with 9:14 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on this turnover and would punt the ball back to the Wildcats with 7:16 left.
Fort Payne would get on the scoreboard right before halftime, connecting on a 28-yard field goal with five seconds left. This would give the Wildcats a 17-3 lead heading into halftime.
The Wildcats started the third quarter looking to extend their lead. They moved the ball into scoring position in 10 plays to the Tigers’ 14-yard line.
Hartselle’s defense would end the drive by forcing the third Wildcat fumble of the game. The fumble was recovered by Anthony Carruthers.
The Tigers cut into the Fort Payne lead on the ensuing possession. The drive was 11 plays for 67 yards. Bryan Munoz hit a 39-yard field goal to make the score 17-6 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
On the next Fort Payne possession, the Tigers forced the Wildcats into a three-and-out. On fourth down, Hartselle blocked the Fort Payne punt. The ball was recovered by Blaze Gillespie, who returned it to the Wildcats’ 18-yard line.
Hartselle was unable to do anything with the ball and settled for a 33-yard Lang field goal to cut the lead to 17-9 with 11:20 remaining in the game.
The Hartselle defense forced the Wildcats into another three-and-out on the next possession.
The Tigers would take advantage on their next drive, getting their only touchdown of the game – a 14-yard touchdown pass from George to Izayah Fletcher on the fourth play of the drive. They would tie the game when George connected with Jayce Dubose for the two-point conversion to make the score 17-17.
The Wildcats took the lead for good with 1:48 left in the game when Love scored his third touchdown of the game on a 24-yard run. The score would make it 24-17.
The Tigers had one final drive to attempt to answer the Fort Payne score, but they were unsuccessful.
The Tigers offense was held to 187 yards of total offense. They finished with 93 yards rushing and 94 yards passing.
Brinten Barclay finished with 70 yards rushing on 12 carries. George finished seven of 24 for 94 yards passing with one touchdown and 49 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“We challenged our guys at halftime to come out to fight and get after it in the second half,” Hartselle coach Bo Culver said. “Although we came up a couple of plays short, I couldn’t be more proud of these kids and their effort.”
Hartselle season comes to an end with a 4-7 record which is only their second losing season since 2000. They finished 4-7 to end the 2007 season.