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Jamboree sees solid win for Golden Tigers

By Brannon King

For the FCT


The Russellville Golden Tigers got off to a quick start and held on to claim a 35-28 jamboree win over the Athens Golden Eagles at home Aug. 18.

Senior quarterback Payton Nichols completed his first six passes and went 9-12 on the night through the air, including a touchdown pass in just over a half of playing time before the reserves took over to finish the game. The Russellville offense had no fumbles or interceptions in the contest.

Zaye Boyd scored three touchdowns for RHS on runs of seven, two and five yards behind the strong offensive line.

The Golden Tigers found the endzone on four of their first five offensive drives in the game and took a 14-0 lead to start the night and held a 28-14 advantage at halftime. The Golden Eagles outscored Russellville 14-7 in the second half as the younger players for both teams gained valuable game experience. Athens pulled within seven points of RHS on a 42-yard TD pass on third down and ten with only 11 seconds remaining in the game.

“I’m proud of the kids. We did a lot of things well, saw a lot of promise and saw a lot of things we’ve got to fix,” Russellville Head Coach Mark Heaton said.

“I think on both sides of the ball we made some big plays when we needed to make them. We’ve got to get better at tackling and being a little bit more precise with what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.  This next week is going to be crucial. I think the biggest improvement that you can find is going to be between week one and week two and the week after that; so this week will be big for us. Special teams are live next week, so we’ve got to really be sharp there.”

Russellville took the ball to start the game and marched 65 yards in 11 plays to get the first points of the game. Boyd scored the first of his three touchdowns, and Marvin Betancourt kicked the extra point to give RHS the 7-0 lead. Betancourt made all five of his extra point attempts in the game.

After Athens pulled within seven points in the second quarter, Russellville answered quickly as Nichols found Nate Franklin for a long 65-yard TD pass to make the score, 20-7.

Devin Buckhalter threw a 17-yard touchdown pass later in the game to Bailey Motes in the third quarter, and Buckhalter also recovered an Athens fumble while on defense for Russellville. John David Aycock added a sack late in the third quarter to stop a Golden Eagle drive.

Russellville will use the experience gained in the jamboree to get ready to take on the Deshler Tigers in the first game of the regular season for RHS, Aug. 26 at Russellville.  The game will be the second of the season for Deshler, who chose to not participate in a jamboree and fell in their first game to Haleyville by a 35-12 score.