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RHS shuts down Decatur to start 2020 football season

The 100th season of Russellville High School football got off to a successful start for the Golden Tigers with a 28-0 victory over the Decatur Red Raiders.

Both teams seemed excited to take the field for Thursday night’s season-opening game in Decatur after uncertain times during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced questions about whether or not football could be played this year.

“After a long break, we played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and that was exciting to see,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “I think these guys understand the opportunity we have – not only to play but to play at a high level, and we did. They were fun to watch.”

Russellville got a shutout from a defense that caused multiple Decatur turnovers and consistently got pressure on the DHS quarterbacks throughout the contest.

The RHS unit on that side of the ball also got into the scoring action with a fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown.

The first Russellville offensive drive of the game resulted in a fumble to Decatur. Three plays later, the Red Raiders returned the turnover favor when Grayson Eady intercepted a DHS pass to set up Russellville’s first scoring drive of the 2020 season.

The 13-play march to the end zone by the offense featured a long pass from quarterback Gabe Amick to Rowe Gallagher.

Four Airreon “Boots” McCulloch runs finished up the possession, and a three-yard TD carry by the junior running back was followed by the first of four successful PAT kicks by Cristhian Cano to make the score 7-0 with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

Three plays later, the RHS defense forced another turnover, leading to more points for the Golden Tigers. Caden Watts recovered a Decatur fumble, and Conner Warhurst found the end zone on a two-yard quarterback keeper on a third-down play to make the score 14-0 late in the opening period.

The Red Raiders had their best scoring opportunity in the second quarter. A drive that started on their own 36-yard line resulted in no points, however, as the RHS defense stood strong. Decatur had first-and-goal at the Russellville two-yard line but failed to get into the end zone on four consecutive snaps.

A 50-yard touchdown run by Caleb Mathews was called back because of an RHS penalty on the next possession.

Russellville’s first drive of the third quarter was a long one, but it ended with a missed 28-yard field goal attempt.

The RHS defense quickly caused another Decatur punt, and three plays later, Amick connected with Cole Barnett for a spectacular 18-yard touchdown pass near the end of the quarter.

Decatur created a turnover in the game’s final period when the defense deflected an RHS pass and picked it off for an interception. On the next drive, Russellville linebacker Brooks Scott found the end zone for an exciting 73-yard interception return for a touchdown for the final scoring play of the night.