Golden Tigers grab win on senior night
By Brannon King for the FCT
The Russellville Golden Tigers defeated the East Limestone Indians on senior night at home on Friday night. The 35-14 win assures RHS that it won’t be the last home game of the season. With the victory, Russellville will finish no worse than second in Class 5A, Region 8, and will host the first round of the playoffs.
Senior quarterback Payton Nichols threw three touchdown passes in the game, and Zaye Boyd also scored three times for Russellville.
“I’m proud of our seniors, and I’m thankful they got to experience a win on senior night. That’s big for them,” Russellville Head Coach Mark Heaton said. “That assures us a home playoff game, and we wanted to make sure we got those guys a chance to do that.”
The Russellville (6-2, 5-1) defense stopped East Limestone on the opening possession of the game on fourth down after the Indians had 13 plays, only one of them being a pass. The Golden Tigers’ first drive ended on a missed 36-yard field goal attempt, but they only needed two plays to score on their second possession. Devin Buckhalter tipped a pass from Nichols up to himself for a 26-yard TD catch. Marvin Betancourt added the extra point kick to put RHS up 7-0 with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter.
East Limestone answered right back to even the score when Joshua Petty ran it in from three yards out on fourth down, and Sabian James added the PAT.
Russellville then scored on a fourth down when Boyd plunged into the end zone for a one-yard TD. Just before the half, Robert Hamilton intercepted an East Limestone pass to set the Golden Tigers up to score again. This time, Nichols threw to Colin Garrison for a 22-yard TD pass on a great throw and catch. The extra point kick was no good, but RHS led at the half 20-7.
The opening drive of the second half for RHS saw 16 plays and five penalties on the Golden Tigers. Nichols faked a punt and ran for a first down to move the chains and later threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Boyd. Next, Brantson Lambert lined up as the holder for the PAT and threw a pass to Logan Jones for a two-point conversion to put the Golden Tigers up 28-7.
East Limestone got its final score of the night with 5:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. The following onside kick failed, and Russellville took seven plays and some time off the clock to score. Nichols used good blocking to convert a fourth down play, and then Boyd scored again on a four-yard touchdown run.
The RHS defense finished the game strong with a sack by John David Aycock followed by an interception by Betancourt.
The Golden Tigers will play the final two weeks of the regular season on the road and will face the Ardmore Tigers next.