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Russellville downs Pelham

MUSCLE SHOALS —Thursday evening marked the first time since last November that the Russellville Golden Tigers football team has had a chance to test its skills against another squad.

Head coach Michael Jackson decided a few weeks ago that playing a bigger team than Russellville, more specifically a class 6A, would be good to help the team out down the road given the level of competition found in the region.

“We wanted to play a good team during the spring game,” Jackson said.

“We knew that Pelham would be a good, challenging match up for us, and we came out here and played well against them.”

Russellville usually finds itself playing in front of capacity crowds in stadiums with standing room only, but the stadium at Pelham was only sparsely populated Thursday night, likely due to day of the week it was played on and the nature of spring football as opposed to fall contests.

Even so, those in attendance to cheer on the Golden Tigers were not disappointed at game’s end as Russellville picked up a convincing 27-20 win over their larger opponent.

“I was impressed how well we competed tonight,” Jackson said.

“We had a rough day leading up to the game. We had a long bus ride to get here and we were playing out of our element.

“[Pelham] does things that pose problems to our team, but we adjusted to their option game.

“We didn’t have an incomplete pass in the second half, and aside from one interception we didn’t turn the ball over.”

Pelham had little trouble at the beginning of the game driving the ball down the field.

The Panthers use a triple option running attack that mirrors that of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC.

This classic style offense uses the quarterback and multiple running backs or “wings” to spread the run game around.

Other than option plays the bread and butter of the triple option is having multiple possible ball carriers, power sweeps and hard-nosed linemen.

Pelham used these things to its advantage and found itself in Russellville’s territory early.

The drive was derailed by the Golden Tiger defense at their own 15 yard line when a forced fumble ended up in the hands of Austin Kitterman.

An interception a few plays later by the Panthers set up the first score of the game on a 1-yard touchdown run. Pelham’s kicker missed the PAT, and the Panthers led 6-0 with 6:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Just shy of six minutes later a 5-yard touchdown scamper by Russellville quarterback Landon Smothers would put Russellville in the lead after the point after at 7-6 with 59.9 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Thanks to the play of the Golden Tigers and the coaches figuring out how to scheme around Pelham’s game plan, Russellville would never again trail in the contest.

Both teams went quiet for a few minutes before an interception by Russellville’s Jesse Vincent set up another Golden Tiger touchdown a few minutes later when Jalen Scott plunged into the end zone from five yards out.

A missed PAT set the score at 13-6, and that tally would remain until the fourth quarter.

Pelham managed to tie the contest at 13-13 at the 11:53 mark of the fourth quarter on a short run, but Russellville answered six minutes later with a five-yard TD run by Scott.

The PAT set the score at 20-13 with 6:03 remaining, but neither team was done scoring.

It was Deyon Hill, the running back and understudy of Tyler Boyd, C.J. Posey and Bud Coleman that got the final Golden Tiger score of the night on a 58-yard run around the right end at the 2:52 mark.

The Panthers would score one last time with 26.2 seconds left on a long catch and run, but it was Russellville that ended up with the seven-point road victory over its 6A opponent.