Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Austin's D.T. Shackleford (center) puts a hit on Hartselle's Montrell Murphy during first-half action in Hartselle on Thursday night. Hartselle's Jeremy Thomason (76) can't help out in time. Austin won 14-7.
Black Bears rally past Hartselle in season opener
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
HARTSELLE — Austin High coach David Norwood didn't have to remind his players that Friday is a school day.
After his Black Bears took a 14-7 win at Hartselle in their season opener Thursday night, they couldn't wait to spread the word.
"It was a real good effort — good enough for the win," Austin's junior quarterback Justin Jones said. "I think it's a pretty good statement. I want to be at school and brag to everybody."
The victory gave the Austin its first win over Hartselle since 2003.
The three losses since then came by a combined 14 points.
Hartselle, a Class 5A quarterfinalist last season, fell to 6A Austin, which did not make the postseason last year.
"They played with a lot more confidence than we did, especially in the second half," Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said. "We'll be OK. What we've got to do is make it right."
After Hartselle scored first on a 6-yard run by Marquez Jones early in the second quarter, Austin posted 14 unanswered points.
Tyler Bennich's extra point for the Tigers after Jones' touchdown was the last point Hartselle scored in the contest.
"They made more big plays than we did," Godsey said.
"However, we kept fighting, and we still had a shot at the end."
Justin Jones led an Austin attack that stayed poised and showed a multi-dimensional approach that proved to be a winning combination.
Jones connected with T.T. Mallard for a 53-yard touchdown pass 40 seconds before halftime, tying the score 7-7 at the break.
With 2:42 left in the third quarter, Austin's Jones struck again, scoring on a 12-yard keeper.
Josh Lowman added an extra point after both Austin touchdowns.
But in a losing effort, all was not lost for Hartselle.
The Tigers' offense racked up 126 yards rushing on the strength of the one-two punch of Montrell Murphy and Marquez Jones. Murphy finished with a team-high 71 yards, while Jones had 39, including the touchdown.
Austin's D'Nico Best had a game-high 81 yards rushing.
Norwood praised the defensive efforts of Black Bears D.T. Shackelford, Cornelius Jenkins, Josh Robinson and Prentice Taylor.
Why was Austin so proud afterward?
The Black Bears said it wasn't just because they got a win opening week but also because they got a win over a quality opponent to kick off the season.
"It's nice to start out with a win, but you mark my words: Hartselle will go deep into the playoffs," Norwood said. "That was a good football team."
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