With playoffs on horizon, Hartselle falls at Huntsville
By Josh Cooper
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HUNTSVILLE — With little fanfare, Marquez Jones took the ball, found a hole to the right and sprinted to the end zone.
The band played, and the Tigers' crowd gave a few cheers, but overall, the touchdown with 1:31 remaining didn't change the game's outcome.
Huntsville scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter and turned a close game at the end of the first half into a comfortable win, defeating Hartselle 34-14 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
As his team ran off the field, Hartselle coach Bob Godsey took one positive from the loss:
"We have one more week to prove ourselves," Godsey said, "That's all."
On Friday, Hartselle (4-6) will play at No. 7-ranked Cullman in the first-round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Against Huntsville (9-1), Hartselle's best highlight came on its first drive of the game. Jones took a handoff, then gave the ball to Tony Weaver on a reverse. Weaver tossed it to quarterback Luke Bole on a 5-yard pass play for the game's first score.
Hartselle didn't score again as Huntsville put up two touchdowns for a 14-7 advantage after the first 24 minutes.
After halftime, Huntsville came out and, as Godsey said later, "imposed their will on" the Tigers.
The Panthers' second drive of the half lasted three plays, but they were enough for a touchdown. From the Hartselle 15-yard line, Huntsville quarterback Louis Gibson rolled right and found an open lane for a touchdown run to put the Panthers up 21-7.
On the ensuing possession, Hartselle fumbled, giving the ball back to Huntsville on the Tigers' 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Gibson found Cameron Clay in the end zone on an 11-yard pass to put the score at 27-7 with 7:21 remaining in the third quarter.
Hartselle was forced to punt on its next drive, and Huntsville scored again when Gibson connected with Thompson McMurtrie on a 10-yard pass play to give the Panthers a 34-7 lead with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter.
"We came out and played hard early," Godsey said. "We just missed out on some things. We had a few shots, but we can't give them that many opportunities."
Bole completed 12 of 25 passes for 101 yards. Jones had nine carries for 56 yards, and Montrell Murphy had 11 carries for 48 yards.
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