RHS nails 59-0 win
By Slade Gilmer for the FCT
Class 5A’s eighth-ranked Russellville Golden Tigers put the finishing touches on their first 5A, Region 8 championship since 2010 with a dominant 59-0 win over the St. John Paul II Falcons Oct. 23 at Russellville Stadium.
The win, the second-largest shutout win in Russellville High history, saw the second half shortened to 13 minutes (the third quarter was shortened to eight minutes, the fourth quarter to five) as the undermanned Falcons suffered their ninth-straight 23+ point loss of the season.
Russellville kicked off to start the game, and after the Falcons went three and out and had a short punt that gave the Golden Tigers the ball on the Falcon 24, it took Deyon Hill three carries to cover the distance – the last a 13-yard scamper to give Russellville a 7-0 lead.
On the second play of St. John Paul’s second possession, a pass went off the hands of a Golden Tiger linebacker Sid Willis and into the waiting arms of senior strong safety J.J. Johnson, who returned the interception 42 yards for a touchdown to give Russellville a 14-0 lead.
The Falcons got a good kickoff return to start at the Russellville 40 on the next drive but only amassed two yards on the next three plays. A fake punt failed on fourth down, and the Golden Tigers took over. Hill busted loose on a 16-yard run on fourth-and-one from the 32, and a facemask moved the ball to the eight-yard line. Quarterback Payton Nichols then hit Hill on a swing pass, and Hill scooted into the end zone to make the score 21-0.
A bad snap on a St. John Paul punt gave the Golden Tigers the ball at the Falcon six, and Nichols scored on a quarterback keeper from there to make the score 28-0.
St. John Paul finally got some momentum on its next drive, as several quarterback scrambles by Falcon quarterback Matthew Sauter moved the ball to the Russellville 36 and set up a fourth-and-one. However, a delay-of-game penalty and a sack on the next play gave Russellville the ball back at its own 42. From there, Hill scored his third touchdown of the night on a 58-yard run to push the lead to 35-0.
After getting the ball back at the Falcon 45, Nichols scrambled on first down, looking for an open receiver. He was flushed out to the Falcon sideline, then made a nifty cutback to the Russellville sideline before finally turning upfield for a 45-yard touchdown run, making the score 42-0 at halftime.
The second half saw several Golden Tiger reserves get playing time. Russellville’s first drive of the second half went 65 yards, with some hard running by running backs Zaye Boyd and Logan Jones and short completions from backup quarterback Lucas McNutt to Devin Buckhalter for seven, Kevin Partrich for 10, and Adonnis Bailey for another seven to move the ball to the eight, where Boyd cashed in to move the score to 49-0.
Russellville forced a punt after three incompletions, and Colin Garrison returned the ball to the 22. A personal foul on the Falcons moved the ball to the 11, and Boyd scampered in from there to make it 56-0.
The Golden Tigers’ last drive stalled at the 25, and Marvin Betancourt drilled a 42-yard field goal to make the score 59-0.
The Falcons got one shot at a scoring opportunity, as Sauter hit receiver David Hession for 37-yard completion to the 32, but three incompletions and a blocked 49-yard field goal attempt preserved the shutout.
Hill ended the night with 107 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, as well as one reception for eight yards and a touchdown. Nichols had the two carries for 51 yards, as well as the touchdown pass. McNutt was four-of-four for 28 yards, and Boyd had 45 yards on four carries and two touchdowns. The Golden Tigers ended the night with 269 total yards on just 30 plays, an average of nearly nine yards a play, while holding St. John Paul II to 83 total yards.
Russellville will conclude the regular season with a home game against Cullman Friday night. The Bearcats, the fourth-seed in Class 6A, Region 8, have won the last three meetings against the Golden Tigers, including a 28-0 win last season.
The Golden Tigers also found out their first-round playoff opponent, as Anniston upset seventh-ranked Alexandria 25-0 to nab the fourth-seed from 5A, Region 6, and set up a matchup against Russellville.