Russellville to the Super Six

Russellville and Cullman went toe-to-toe for about one half before the Golden Tigers capitalized on a Bearcat mistake and took off from there. The Golden Tigers would build a 15 point lead and hold on for the victory and the right to represent the North at Legion Field in Alabama's Class 5A.

The Cullman Bearcats took control early as Tyler Caldwell went 4-of-5 as they drove the length of the field when Caldwell hit Ben Moore for a 13-yard touchdown. The PAT was good, and the Bearcats took a 7-0 lead.

After the two offenses swapped punts Russellville got on the board when Joey Howe connected with Jake Ward for 39-yards and a Russellville touchdown. That PAT was true as the Golden Tigers tied the score 7-7.

It didn't take the Bearcats long to answer after a fumble recovery near mid-field. Caldwell took the Bearcats to pay-dirt when he found Kyle Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was blocked by Ryan Romans, and the score stood 13-7.

The turning point of the game came on the Bearcats' next possession. Backed up at their own 18-yard line with a 4th-and-18 Coach Britton decided to attempt a fake punt. Caldwell completed the pass, but came up three yards short, and the Golden Tigers took over at the Bearcat 28-yard line.

After Brent Calloway picked up a tough third and six, Mario Roman carried it in from one-yard out. The PAT was good, and Russellville took a 14-13 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.

The game got a little ugly on the ensuing kickoff as Russellville picked up a personal foul giving the Bearcats good field position. However, the Bearcats returned the favor after picking up a first down, which set up a 3rd and 18. The Bearcats were forced to punt after an incomplete pass, and the ball traveled only nine yards.

Two plays later Brent Calloway took a safe draw play and turned it into a 74-yard touchdown with eight seconds left in the first half. The PAT was good, and the Tigers had turned a six point deficit into an eight point lead.

Brent Calloway ended the first half with 12 rushes for 132-yards and a touchdown. Tyler Caldwell and the Cullman Bearcats were plagued by dropped passes as Caldwell finished the half 14-of-30 for 127-yards and two touchdowns.

The Bearcats started the second half much like they ended the first. An onside kick attempt, which looked to be a Cullman recovery, was nullified by an offsides penalty. The Bearcats kicked the ball out of bounds giving the Golden Tigers the ball at the 40-yard line.

Howe connected with Nathan McAlister for 29-yards and a first down at the Bearcat 24-yard line. The Tigers elected to go for a 4th-and-7 at the Cullman 25-yard line after the Bearcat defense stiffened.

Joey Howe hit Jake Ward on a five yard out pattern which Ward turned into a 25-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good, and Russellville took a 28-13 lead just minutes into the third quarter.

If that wasn't bad enough for the Bearcats, the rain picked up from a slow drizzle to a steady rain.

The Bearcats wasted no time taking the ball down to the Russellville 32-yard line before the Bearcats shot themselves in the foot once more. On first and 10 from the 32 the Bearcats picked up another personal foul penalty which moved the ball back to the Russellville 43-yard line after a four gain by Ben Moore. The penalty was a dead-ball foul, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty, and basically a loss of down.

The Bearcats stayed in their hurry-up offense the entire second half, and Tyler Caldwell took the Bearcats the length of the field and completed what appeared as a 25-yard touchdown pass. The officials whistled the Bearcats for a five yard penalty, which still has many of us puzzled, and erased the score.

Three plays later Darrian Graham intercepted a Caldwell pass attempt in the end zone. Yet another 15-yard penalty was called against the Bearcats for a chop-block, and Russellville was awarded the ball and a 15-yard penalty.

The following play from scrimmage saw Jake Ward carry the ball for nine-yards before he fumbled the ball away to the Bearcats, but the official whistled the ball dead and ruled Ward down-by-contact before the ball came out.

The officials kept flagging both teams throughout the final 14-minutes of play, in what turned into a ridiculous performance by the officiating crew. Neither Russellville, nor Cullman could find any rhythm in their offense the remainder of the game.

However, after each team swapped punts, and a few more penalties, the Bearcats went the length of the field and Caldwell found an open receiver for a 14-yard touchdown. This cut the Golden Tiger lead to nine.

Coach Britton decided to roll the dice and go for the two-point conversion even though an extra point would have pulled the Bearcats within a single score. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 28-19 in favor of Russellville.

The Golden Tigers' Joey Howe found Nathan McAlister for two huge first-down completions to help the Tigers inside the Cullman five-yard-line before a Cullman fumble recovery stopped the drive.

However, the damage was done as the Golden Tigers held the ball for more than five-minutes on their final drive. The Bearcats fought back, but dropped passes continued to kill any hopes of a Bearcat come-back. The Golden Tigers intercepted a Caldwell pass attempt with less than five seconds remaining in the game.

The Bearcats undoing on the evening was a combination of things including penalties, the fake punt just before halftime, and more dropped passes than I have seen in any single game, perhaps any two games.

Although the Bearcats dropped balls all over the field the Russellville defense is to be commended for a job well done, as they were able to pressure Tyler Caldwell the entire second half. They came up with big interceptions at key times in the game.

Brent Calloway finished the game with 170-yards and one touchdown on 24 carries.

Joey Howe finished the evening 11-of-20 for 157-yards and two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Cullman's Tyler Caldwell finished the game 24-of-56 for 245-yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Russellville will return to the Super Six for the first time since 2005. The Tigers have been to the state title game three times this decade, losing all three games. They will have a mountain to climb in the finals as they face an undefeated Vigor team. The Wolves defeated Carver 45-41 in the southern semifinal contest. congratulates both Russellville and Cullman for a very successful season.

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