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Blackwood and Fletcher lead Hartselle to 38-10 victory over Decatur

JT Blackwood connected with Izayah Fletcher for three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 38-10 victory over Decatur. The win was Hartselle’s third straight in the series and the sixth in the team’s past ten meetings. 

“Anytime you come to Decatur and get a win, it is a good night,” said Hartselle Coach Bryan Moore. 

The Tiger defense set the tone early, holding the Red Raiders to minus-five yards on the game’s opening drive. Seth Lockett sacked Decatur quarterback Grayson Vermeire for an eight-yard loss to force a Red Raider punt. 

The Tigers wasted little time on their opening possession as they marched 44 yards in four plays to score the game’s first points. Parker Sawyer opened the drive with a 24-yard pass to Fletcher and three plays later scored on a 14-yard run to put the Tigers up 7-0 with 9:19 left in the first quarter. 

Decatur’s Brian Cole kicked a 25-yard field goal on the Red Raiders’ next possession to cut the Tigers’ lead to 7-3 with 5:12 left in the first quarter. Decatur had moved the ball from their 20-yard line to Hartselle’s eight-yard line before settling for the field goal. 

Hartselle opened the second quarter with fireworks, as Blackwood connected with I. Fletcher for their first touchdown pass, a 54-yarder on the second play of the quarter. Fletcher made a great move at the sideline to stay inbounds as he turned upfield, heading for the endzone. Following the extra point, the Tigers led 14-3. 

The Red Raiders looked to build a little momentum of their own on their next drive until a holding penalty forced Decatur into a secondand20 situation the Raiders could not convert. Following the Raiders’ 27-yard punt, the Tigers took possession of the ball at their 46-yard line. 

Hartselle would take a little more than three minutes off the clock before Mookie Moore scored on an eight-yard run. The eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive gave the Tigers a 21-3 lead with 6:31 left in the second quarter. 

The Raiders put together another good drive, moving the ball from their 20-yard line to the Tigers’ 30- yard line in seven plays. Following a two-yard run on first down and an incomplete pass on second down, the Hartselle defense shut the door on the drive with two consecutive sacks.  

The first sack, by senior defensive lineman Kelvin Morris, was an eight-yard loss for the Red Raiders. On fourthand16, senior defensive lineman EJ Colbert sacked Vermeire for a seven-yard loss and a turnover on downs. 

The Tigers got a 43-yard field goal by Crawford Lang to close out the scoring in the first half. The field goal gave Hartselle a 24-3 lead heading into halftime. 

The Red Raiders dominated the third quarter, as they rolled up 101 yards on two drives and held the Tiger offense to 14 yards. Decatur cut the Hartselle lead to 24-10, capitalizing on the game’s first turnover to march 35 yards for a touchdown. 

Hartselle would bounce back with two scores less than two and a half minutes apart in the fourth quarter. 

With 9:57 left in the fourth quarter, Fletcher hauled in a Blackwood 11-yard pass in the corner of the endzone for the duo’s second touchdown connection. Blackwood connected with Trent Wright on a 35-yard catch and run, and he then hit Ri Fletcher with a 20-yard pass to move the Tigers deep into the Red Raiders’ territory. The touchdown made the score 31-10. 

Following another defensive stop highlighted by Colbert’s second sack of the night – this time for a loss of eight yards – the Tigers would take over the ball at their 45-yard line. 

On the next play, Blackwood hit a wide-open I. Fletcher in the middle of the field; I. Fletcher then raced 55 yards for his third touchdown to put the Tigers up 38-10. 

Hartselle’s offense had their best performance of the season, as they finished with 415 yards of total offense. 

Three quarterbacks combined to go 16 of 23 for 284 yards. Blackwood was eight of 12 for 205 yards and three touchdowns; Sawyer finished six of nine for 60 yards, and sophomore Jack Smith was two of two for 19 yards. 

The Tigers ran for a season-high 131 yards on 29 carries. Sawyer led the way with 47 yards, while Moore finished with 43 yards and a touchdown. 

I. Fletcher finished with a career-best 154 yards and three touchdowns on six catcheswhile Wright had 73 yards receiving on four catches. 

“Every win for our team right now is building momentum and such a positive feel,” said Moore. 

The Tigers (2-2, 1-1) will welcome Columbia (0-4, 0-2) to JP Cain Stadium Friday night. 

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