The Golden Tigers’ undefeated season is spoiled by the Jasper Vikings.

Vikings end Golden Tiger win streak

The Russellville football team went to Jasper Friday night to take on the Vikings in what was the Class 5A, Region 7 championship game – and the Golden Tigers came up short, 42-13.

Jasper’s defense smothered the high-powered Russellville offensive attack. RHS found the end zone on the second play of the game and again late in the third quarter, with both touchdowns coming on long runs.

The Golden Tigers had no passing yards in the game, and they threw only two passes, with both coming in the first quarter of their first loss of the season.

“We’re not going to let one game define what we’ve done to this point, and we’re not going to let it define what we do after this point. I think this was, hopefully, a good reality check for some of our guys,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “We’re going to get things right. It didn’t get fixed in one game, and it’s not going to get broken in one game.

“We’re going to do what we do: we’re going to practice at a high level and get these guys back playing inspired and playing hard because at times, we didn’t play very hard tonight.”

Things looked promising for Russellville at the start of Friday night’s game at Jasper’s Ki-Ro Gambrell Field. After an incomplete pass on the first play of the game, quarterback Lucas McNutt kept the ball himself on play two and went the distance for a 73-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was low and no good, but only 19 seconds into the game, RHS was on top.

Jasper (7-1, 6-0) took the lead when the Vikings’ first possession also resulted in a score. Kaden Shelton finished the 11-play drive with a two-yard run, and the extra point put the Vikings up 7-6. Jasper grew that lead to 14-6 when Shelton scored again, this time on a 13-yard carry.

Viking quarterback Michael Crear put JHS up 21-6 when he scored on a three-yard keeper with 9:19 to go in the first half.

On Russellville’s next possession, the Golden Tigers tried to jumpstart their offense with a fake punt from their own 37-yard line, but the run by punte, Jamal Hubbard came up a chain link short of a first down.

The Vikings then tried a fourth-down fake of their own instead of attempting a 30-yard field goal. The pass was complete, but the play came up short of the end zone on a fourth-and-goal.

After the next Russellville drive stalled, JHS took possession and tried for another score just before the half, but Russellville’s Ashaad Williams intercepted a pass, and the score remained 21-6 at the half.

In the third quarter, Jasper scored on all three possessions to take total control of the game. The last Viking touchdown was set up by a block of a Russellville punt.

The Golden Tigers got their second TD of the game when Zaye Boyd took a handoff and went 66 yards for a score with 51 seconds to go in the third quarter. The Miguel Flores PAT kick was good, and RHS trailed 42-13.

Both teams kept the clock moving in the fourth quarter, as every play of the period was a running play. Jasper had the ball for 15 plays in the final quarter, and RHS snapped the ball seven times, all on one possession, in the fourth, mixing runs between Devin Buckhalter and Austin Ashley.

Russellville (7-1, 5-1) is safely in the playoffs but will need to beat Dora this week to claim second place in the region standings. With a win over Dora, RHS will get to host a first-round play-off game against either Center Point or Central of Clay County instead of having to take a long road trip in the opening round to play against one of those two schools.

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