Taking down the Devils

The Russellville Golden Tigers used an explosive offense to take down the Lawrence County Red Devils Friday night at RHS.

With the 53-32 win, the Golden Tigers kept their season-long winning streak alive and also remained in a tie with Jasper atop the region standings.

On offense, the Golden Tigers (6-0, 4-0) had no trouble finding the end zone against the Red Devils, but the Russellville defense struggled at times. That being said, the RHS defenders did find a way to create important turnovers, and they got pressure on the LCHS quarterback, resulting in sacks.

“We did a lot of good things and a lot of bad things,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “We’ve said it a couple of times, and eventually, we’re going to learn a lesson – and I think it’s going to be with a loss because we’re not doing a very good job of learning lessons after a win.

“While we’ve been winning, we’re not doing it the way we want to do it. There’s a certain standard and a certain expectation that we have for these guys, and right now, we’re not meeting it,” Ritter explained.

The Russellville coach did find positives in the win, and there’s still room to grow going forward. “6-0, and we’re 4-0 in the region, and unless something crazy happens, we’ve qualified for the playoffs, so there’s a lot of positives in winning,” Ritter said. “If we can keep scoring, hopefully the defense will start playing better and start playing assignment football, and we’ve got the makings of a good football team.”

Lawrence County (2-4, 2-2) got the ball first on Friday night and went three-and-out. After a short punt, Russellville needed only one play to score, as Devin Buckhalter electrified the home crowd with a 42-yard touchdown run. The Perez extra-point kick hit the post, but RHS was up 6-0.

Three plays later, Caden Watts intercepted a Lawrence County pass after Jamal Hubbard had deflected a pass on the previous play. A 10-play RHS drive followed, and it resulted in a score. Buckhalter was on the receiving end of a pass from Lucas McNutt in the corner of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown. The try-for-two failed, and Russellville was on top 12-0.

The Red Devils fumbled the kickoff return, and Nate Green recovered the loose ball for Russellville, but the Golden Tigers later had to punt the ball back to LCHS. The next possession for Lawrence County was short but eventful. On second down, the Red Devils threw a pass that would have been a 76-yard TD, but a penalty nullified the score. On the next play, Russellville’s Donald Ramson intercepted Blankenship and returned it for what would have been a touchdown, but it also did not stand because of a penalty.

On the following snap, Lawrence County threw for a 66-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point kick was no good, making the score 12-6 at the end of the first quarter.

After forcing a Russellville punt, LCHS scored again a few plays later, giving the Red Devils a 13-12 advantage. RHS answered when Zaye Boyd scored on a five-yard run, but the try-for-two failed when McNutt was stopped in the backfield.

The shootout between the two offenses continued, and just before the half, Lawrence County retook the lead as Blankenship threw a 15-yard TD pass to Malik Strickland and the Red Devils led at the half, 19-18.

Russellville scored three plays into the third quarter when McNutt threw a 70-yard TD pass to Buckhalter, and then the duo teamed up again to convert the try-for-two. A couple of sacks by the RHS defense ended the next LCHS threat, and the Russellville offense scored again with 5:02 left in the quarter. Miguel Flores made the extra-point kick, and RHS had a 33-19 lead.

Both teams saw touchdowns called back because penalties, as Lawrence County had a 75-yard pass called back and Buckhalter ran a punt return into the end zone that did not count because of a flag. With a minute to go in the third, the Red Devils scored, but on the first play of the fourth quarter, RHS’ Boyd went 53 yards for another touchdown, and it put RHS up 39-25.

It only took LCHS four plays to answer, and a 49-yard scoring pass along with the PAT kick got the Red Devils back to within a touchdown. Wylie Boyd picked off an LCHS pass halfway through the final quarter, and two plays later, Zaye Boyd scored on a 42-yard run.

A Brooks Scott sack of the LCHS quarterback and a 19-yard Austin Ashley touchdown run helped end the Lawrence County hopes for a comeback as Russellville went on to celebrate the victory.

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