Vigor Runs Over Russellville For 5A Crown

Vigor's massive offensive line pounded Russellville into submission in winning the Class 5A title.

Birmingham, Ala.--The Vigor Wolves entered Friday night's 5A title game as one of the most physical teams in Alabama regardless of classification. They did nothing to dispute that claim against Russellville as they had a record night on the way to a state championship.

In winning 50-30, the most points ever in a 5A championship game, Vigor set records for rushing yards (480) and total offense (606) while dominating what had been a close game at the half. Led by massive backs Kendall Houston and Jalston Fowler and behind an offensive line featuring one of the top juniors in the state in Quinterrius Eatmon, the Wolves were too much for Russellville on this night.

Houston finished the night with 180 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries while Fowler added 163 and three scores on just 17 attempts. For Russellville junior quarterback Joey Howe completed 19-46 passes for 335 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, but the story was Vigor on this night.

Kendall Houston had a big night for Vigor.

Vigor got on the scoreboard first thanks to the quick feet of the big man Fowler. He raced 22 yards for a touchdown with 7:52 left in the first quarter to put the Wolves up 6-0. The extra point was blocked, but it got Vigor off and running. Russellville answered behind the arm of Howe. Driving his team 65 yards, he set up the first points of the game for his team on a Jose Betancourt field goal with 5:11 remaining in the first.

From there the Wolves put on the pressure as Houston's one-yard run just 16 seconds into the second quarter capped a 77-yard drive. A two-point conversion was good to put Vigor up 14-3. Just over four minutes later Houston's seven-yard score following a 78-yard, five-play drive made it 21-3 Vigor, but things were just getting interesting.

With Howe lighting up the Vigor secondary, the Golden Tigers moved 55 yards in just five plays in 1:39 before Landon Gilmer hauled in a 20-yard score to cut the lead to 21-10. After getting the ball back with just over two minutes left following a short quick kick, Russellville covered 48 yards in five plays with Brent Calloway scoring from nine yards out.

Russellville QB Joey Howe

That made the score 21-17 with just 1:35 remaining, but the half was far from over. Vigor got the ball back and appeared to be stopped, but a fake punt kept the drive alive. Getting within striking distance for a final pass, quarterback Keith Ray's toss went off the fingertips of the intended receiver to end the half with Vigor on top by just four.

A turnover set up Russellville for its only lead of the night to start the second half as a fumble return to the 10 set up an eight-yard pass from Howe to Mason Willis. The extra point was blocked however, leaving Russellville ahead 23-21. From that point forward it was all Vigor.

Taking over on their own 30, the Wolves drove 70 yards in six plays with Fowler taking it 39 yards to the house to put Vigor back in front. Houston then got back to work as his three-yard run put the finishing touches on a 13-play, 61-yard drive to give Vigor a two touchdown lead at 37-23.

It was all over but the shouting after that as Vigor tacked on two more touchdown runs before Russellville's Howe hit Nathan McAlister on a 75-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to make the final 50-30.

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