Golden Tigers build depth while rolling Hayden

The Russellville Golden Tigers traveled to Hayden Friday night to take on the Wildcats and continued their football success on the ground and through the air to take a 48-20 win.

Russellville (3-0, 2-0) got four scores with the passing attack and three more on handoffs. The Golden Tigers showed their running back depth, with Austin Ashley and Caleb Matthews carrying the load; Boots McCulloch was dressed out for the game but did not play because of an injury.

“We had two starters hurt, and JD Price stepped up at Z-receiver and had a great night,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “Caleb Matthews stepped up and had a phenomenal night at tailback. We tried to rest Boots because he’s kind of gimped up with a hamstring.  

“Like we’ve said from day one, we’ve got three tailbacks we feel good about, and tonight was a great example of why we feel good about Caleb.”

The Class 5A No. 5 RHS team also had a good showing on defense, holding Hayden’s offense to two touchdowns. 

One score came on a fourth-and-one run up the middle by the Wildcats that turned into a 58-yard TD after the runner broke free from the blocking pile. The first Hayden touchdown came on a 36-yard interception return of a Russellville pass early in the second period.

The RHS defense had to stop Hayden twice to start the game, as the team caused a punt on the first set of downs, but the Golden Tigers fumbled the attempt to catch the ball on the return and gave it back to the Wildcats.  

Three runs by Hayden followed, and then an incomplete pass by HHS on a fourth-down play resulted in a turnover on downs.

Russellville put together a 46-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Bishop to receiver Rowe Gallagher. 

Miguel Flores made six of seven extra-point kicks in the game, and his first made the score 7-0 with 5:08 remaining in the opening quarter.

After the RHS defense caused another punt after a three-and-out by Hayden, the offense went to work again – and for the second consecutive drive, Bishop found Gallagher for a scoring strike, this time covering 41 yards.

The next RHS offensive possession wasn’t as fruitful for the Golden Tigers, as Bishop was intercepted, and Hayden returned the pick for a touchdown.  

Russellville answered right back with a score when Ashley went into the end zone on an 11-yard run to make the score 21-7.  

Ashley followed that up with his second TD of the night on the next drive, this time crossing the goal line on a one-yard carry.

A long run by Hayden, followed by a personal foul penalty against RHS, set up the Wildcats for their second score just before the half. The extra-point kick was blocked to make it 28-13.  

A couple of nice catches by Price got Russellville deep into Hayden territory, but time expired in the second quarter before the Golden Tigers could convert the good effort into more points.

Three Russellville touchdowns highlighted the second half.  

The first was a 35-yard TD pass from Bishop to Cole Barnett on fourth-and-12. Then, the Golden Tigers made the score 41-13 when Matthews scored on a one-yard run.  

Finally, Gabe Amick connected with TJ King for a 13-yard touchdown pass, as RHS had an opportunity to get some young players some experience to finish the contest.

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