Tigers 1-4 on the season
By Brandon Shields
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Another game, another tough opponent and another loss for Hartselle High's football team.
With Friday's 45-20 loss to Class 5A No. 10 Cullman, Hartselle dropped to 1-4. The Tigers also have fallen to 6A Austin, 5A Decatur and 5A No. 2 Russellville.
For Hartselle, Montrell Murphy finished the night with 62 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown on a 2-yard run in the second period.
Marquez Jones added a 7-yard scoring run in the final quarter, and Luke Bole found Tony Weaver for a 62-yard touchdown in the third period.
Cullman took a 28-7 lead into halftime and cruised from there. The Bearcats won it with a lineup that was missing several key starters.
"I was really proud to see all of our younger guys step up and fill in for the guys that have been hurt," Cullman head coach Mark Britton said. "We challenged them before the game to step up for their teammates that couldn't play tonight."
With senior running back Mike Timmons out with a shoulder injury, fellow senior Jacob Smith filled the void and recorded 85 yards on 17 carries to help Cullman keep control of the ball.
Quarterback Tyler Caldwell flirted with the 300-yard mark for the second consecutive week as he completed 20 of 29 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
Gavin Ellis caught three of those passes as he recorded eight receptions for 135 yards and scores of 38, 35 and 5 yards. The second score came at the end of the second quarter.
"I was just trying to get in the end zone and turn around to see if the ball was coming my way," Ellis said. "There were a lot of guys around me, but the ball just happened to fall in my hands."
Another senior receiver had a big night as well, as Christopher Fisher finished with 69 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
Fisher said winning the rivalry game halfway through the season is big after falling in Hartselle a year ago.
"They beat us at their place last year, and we just had a hard time the rest of the season after that," Fisher said. "Hartselle is always a big game for us, and winning the way we did tonight makes us being 5-0 that much better."
Cullman went up 14-0 early in the first quarter after sophomore Bryan Steele ran for 13 yards and Caldwell connected with Ellis for the first score.
Hartselle came back and cut the lead to seven early in the second period when Murphy scored from 2 yards out.
However, Cullman added two more touchdowns before intermission with another Steele run and a second Caldwell-Ellis connection at the end of the half.
Cullman then extended its lead to 28 with Fisher's touchdown reception, but Hartselle showed it still had some fight left in it when Bole found Weaver, who was able to get away from the Bearcats' defense and into the end zone to cut the lead to 35-14.
The Tigers' defense was then able to stop Cullman's offense from getting into the end zone again late in the third, but Will Barnes connected with a 25-yard field goal.
Hartselle cut into the lead even more with a 7-yard run by Jones a score of 38-20.
With Cullman trying to run the clock out, Caldwell was able to hit Ellis a third time, this time from 5 yards out for the final score.
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