RHS grabs Homecoming win

Fireworks lit up the sky over the football stadium, and the offenses lit up the scoreboard Friday night in Russellville.

The Golden Tigers celebrated homecoming and took a 65-34 victory over the Hamilton Aggies in front of a big home crowd to remain tied with Jasper atop the Class 5A, Region 7 standings.

Hamilton played Russellville (7-0, 5-0) close for a quarter and trailed by eight points. Then, the big three of Lucas McNutt, Zaye Boyd and Devin Buckhalter took over on offense, and the defense managed to create turnovers and score points on a return of a fumble and a safety.

“We’ve got a bunch of kids that play hard and try to do what we tell them to do. We don’t always do it, but we play with a lot of heart, we play with a lot of pride, and we play with a lot of dedication to making sure this program gets back on top,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter.

The Golden Tigers find themselves going to Jasper next in what essentially is a game for the region title. “You want to be playing week eight in the region championship, and that’s what we are,” Ritter said.

Jasper is 6-1 overall with a loss in week zero at Cullman by a 28-27 score. Since then, the Vikings have won the rest of their games and, like RHS, are unbeaten in region play.

Russellville took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter versus Hamilton when a 14-yard touchdown run by Lucas McNutt was followed by the first of nine extra-point kicks made in the game by Miguel Flores. Hamilton answered with a TD with 7:05 remaining in the first quarter when James Brown found Alexander Reid for a 21-yard pass. Wylie Boyd blocked the extra-point kick attempt, and Russellville held a 7-6 lead.

The Aggies recovered the bouncing ball on the next kick off, but the seven-play drive that followed resulted in no points, when a deflected pass in the end zone was intercepted by Caden Watts. Three Zaye Boyd runs, including one in which he made moves and broke tackles, set up the next RHS score. McNutt finished off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to the corner of the end zone to put the Golden Tigers up 14-6.

Hamilton fumbled on its next play, and Gage Cook recovered, but an interception of a fourth-down pass gave the ball back to HHS. After the two teams traded punts, Russellville’s Ashaad Williams intercepted a Hamilton pass on a third-down play to set up his offense with great field position. Boyd went into the end zone from five yards out on a run to put his team up 21-6.

Three plays later, Brooks Scott recovered a Hamilton fumble and ran it back for another RHS touchdown. The quick strike ability of Russellville was on display just a few plays later when Buckhalter ran a Hamilton punt back 70 yards to make the score 35-6 with 4:30 to go in the half.

The Aggies got their second TD of the game with just less than a minute to go in the second quarter when Jathan Jackson had a nine-yard run. The short kick off that followed backfired, and with 17 seconds before the break, Boyd scored again, this time on a 12-yard carry.

Four plays into the second half, Russellville grew the lead to 49-13 when Buckhalter caught a 28-yard TD pass from McNutt. The next HHS drive ended with a score on an 11-yard TD pass from Brown to Reid on a fourth-down play.

The action continued with a 56-yard touchdown pass from McNutt to Buckhalter and a 63-yarder from Brown to Hogan Gann for Hamilton to make it 56-27 with 3:34 to go in the third quarter. Boyd then went 75 yards for a TD, and RHS was up 63-27 going into the fourth period.

The Aggies added a TD early in the fourth when Luke Nieman recovered a Russellville fumble in the end zone. Later in the final quarter, a long Jamal Hubbard punt, an Albaro Francisco fumble recovery and a Hubbard sack that resulted in a safety were all big plays for the Golden Tigers.

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