No. 2 Russellville avoids first loss, claws back for 14-10 win at AHS
Franklin County Times
ATHENS – You could nickname this year's Russellville football squad the Nitty Gritty Band.
For the fourth time this season, the No. 2 Golden Tigers (6-0, 4-0) came from behind Friday night to beat defending 5A state champion Athens 14-10.
"We play better when we're down," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "We just seem to have a sense of urgency at the end, and we've been in so many close games that when it gets down to the nitty gritty, we turn it up a notch."
The Golden Eagles (2-4, 1-3) took advantage of a lackluster start by Russellville to build a 10-point lead from a 28-yard field goal by Brian Brown in the first quarter, and a 75-yard bomb thrown by Justin Peppers to Chad Stinnett with 1:44 left in the second quarter.
"I told them at halftime that everyone was flat in the first half – the stands, the players, the sidelines and the coaches<" Goodwin said. "We had a lot of kids out tonight. That's no excuse, but at times we were out of sync on offense." With 1:29 until halftime, Russellville took over at its own 23-yard line and cut the Athens lead to 10-7 when quarterback Cory Trapp found fellow senior Blake Jackson for a 4-yard touchdown and Josh Montgomery nailed the PAT. The seven-play drive featured completions of 20 and 37 yards to Caleb Mitchell and a 5-yard pass to Jackson. The Russellville defense held Athens to 36 yards on the ground, and Jacob Daniel, Kory Suggs and Mitchell each intercepted Peppers. "I thought the defense played great, and we had great run defense - Athens didn't make it over 50 yards rushing and had to throw it all night," Goodwin said. At the start of the fourth quarter, Athens seemed poised to score with a third-and-7 on the Russellville 8-yard line. But Daniel stepped in front of a Peppers pass and returned it to the Athens 41-yard line. After trading three-and-outs with the Golden Eagles, Russellville took over at its own 40 with 7:30 remaining. Junior tailback Scotty Freeman, who was starting in place of the team's leading rusher, Mike Abernathy, plunged over right tackle from the Athens 1 and Montgomery converted the PAT to put the Golden Tigers ahead 14-10. The 10-play drive left 3:12 on the clock for Athens, which took over at its own 35, but Peppers' second pass was intercepted by Mitchell, and the Golden Tigers ran out the clock. Russellville plays at Decatur next Friday night in a key region matchup that will determine playoff seeding.