Season ends in Cullman
Hartselle falls late in 1st-round game
From staff reports
A general rule in football says it's harder to beat a team for the second time in a season than the first time.
That proved true Friday night when Cullman hosted Hartselle in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Hartselle fell 42-41, ending the Tigers' season.
In an earlier meeting in the fifth week of the season, Cullman took a 45-20 victory.
Hartselle led by 14 at one point in the fourth quarter but couldn't hold on.
"A game like this will wear a coach out," Cullman head coach Mark Britton said. "Our kids played tough, and they never quit even when we were down a bit there for a little while."
Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey said he and his coaching staff did not change much as far as game plan goes between the teams' first meeting and Friday night's game.
"The difference was the kids and how they played," Godsey said. "They've become a better team over the past few weeks than they were that night, but we were obviously not good enough."
Montrell Murphy led Hartselle with 122 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns, while Marquez Jones had 82 yards on 13 carries with one score. Tony Weaver helped out with 10 receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Up 28-21 at halftime, the Tigers took advantage of a missed field goal by Cullman to drive down the field on the legs of Murphy and Jones to take a 35-21 lead. Murphy capped the drive with an 8-yard scoring run with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Cullman then came back to cut the lead in half when Mike Timmons had a 38-yard run.
Timmons, who led Cullman with 207 yards on 26 carries and two scores, actually fumbled the ball behind the line of scrimmage and had to run back about 10 yards to avoid Hartselle defenders.
Timmons then broke free and ran down the right sideline for the score.
Hartselle then tried to drive down the field and eat some time off the clock, but Cullman forced a fumble, and the Bearcats' Donnie Parker recovered.
Cullman then scored seven plays later when quarterback Tyler Caldwell connected with Chris Fisher for an 18-yard score to tie the game with 5:42 remaining.
Hartselle answered back when the Tigers returned a kick to midfield and then marched down the field to score on a 9-yard run by Murphy with 2:54 to go in the game, but the Tigers were unable to convert extra point as the kick missed wide right.
Down by six, Cullman got the ball on its own 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds. Caldwell connected with Fisher and Gavin Ellis and Mike Timmons ran four times for 24 yards to put the Bearcats on Hartselle's 17.
Facing fourth-and-eight, Caldwell then hit Drew Forrest who jumped over a Hartselle defender into the end zone to tie the game. Will Barnes then connected on the extra point to give the Bearcats the lead with 37 seconds remaining.
"Coach asked me what I thought would be open, and I told him throwing it where I did would be," Caldwell said. "I hit Drew there about 15 yards out and they had soft coverage on him."
After starting on their own 12, the Tigers drove to their own 30 before throwing an incomplete pass on the last play of the game.
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