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Golden Tigers hold on for rivalry win

Russellville came into Friday’s game looking to get that first big win – not over just anyone, either, as the rival Deshler Tigers came into Golden Tiger Stadium looking to bounce back from their loss against Haleyville. But it was a night for Golden Tiger victory, as the home team nailed a 31-15 win.
After only a field goal in the first quarter, the second quarter ended up being electrifying for the Golden Tigers as they started out with a five-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Payton Nichols, putting the Golden Tigers up 10-0 with 10:47 left in the first half.
Deshler’s Jacoby Belue would answer back with a 37-yard touchdown run of his own and two point conversion, making it 10-8 and putting pressure back on the Golden Tigers.
Russellville’s very next play from scrimmage saw sophomore running back Zay Boyd, who finished his night with 160 yards in his first varsity start, take it 53 yards to improve the lead to 17-8.
Deshler went three-and-out on the next drive, and Russellville tried to extend the lead with another field goal from All-State senior Marvin Betancourt, whose kick came up short and was retuned by Deshler into Golden Tiger territory. Xavier Trotter’s touchdown and extra point made it 17-15, trimming the lead.
Once again Russellville would capitalize and turn the momentum back to the Golden Tigers – this time from senior Nate Franklin, who dropped a sure touchdown earlier in the game would bounce back as Nichols found him wide open. Franklin outran the Tigers’ defense for a 61-yard touchdown connection from Nichols to go into halftime up 24-15.
The second half was unlike the explosive first half. Both defenses clinched down, but the Golden Tigers would get the only touchdown of the second half as Nichols scored his second rushing touchdown on the night that would silence the Tigers of Deshler.
Russellville lost seven starters from last year;s stingy defense and was without three players Friday – senior DT Robby Curnutt (shoulder injury) junior LB Connor Stults (leg injury) and junior CB Logan Jones (suspension, due back next week).
Russellville’s defense shutout Deshler in the second half and had three takeaways the whole game, with two interceptions from Collin Garrison and Sid Willis and a late fumble recovery from Willis that sealed the game for the Golden Tigers.

“It’s always good to start the year with a win,” Head Coach Mark Heaton said. “Winning the Deshler game has always helped us get off to a fast start. I am excited about the potential of this football team.
“If we can continue to get better each day and progress week to week, I believe this team can do big things,” Heaton added. “I am thankful for our seniors. They are doing a great job leading this team. Our coaches will have a great plan this week for our first region game.”
Russellville, which has won ten consecutive region games dating back to the 2014 season, will open Class 5A, Region 8 play at home against Lee of Huntsville next Friday night.
“It’s important to start 1-0 in the region,” Heaton said. “If you lose that first region game, then every region game after that, your backs are against the wall.

“We are going to prepare each day and be thankful the Lord allows us to play this great game.”

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