Connor Shelton and other Hartselle teammates mob sophomore quarterback Jake Tiffin after he scored a 10-yard touchdown in overtime. Tiffin was making his first varsity start Friday night. | Brent Maze
Connor Shelton and other Hartselle teammates mob sophomore quarterback Jake Tiffin after he scored a 10-yard touchdown in overtime. Tiffin was making his first varsity start Friday night. | Brent Maze

Archived Story

Young Tigers fight back

Published 12:23am Saturday, August 31, 2013

It hasn’t sunk in yet for Jake Tiffin.

The sophomore quarterback had been running on adrenaline for the last five minutes of regulation and overtime. He had just been mobbed by his teammates following his 10-yard touchdown in overtime, which lifted No. 7 Hartselle to a 14-11 win over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Friday night.

“It was fun,” Tiffin said of his first career start. “It was a great team win for us. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”

What Tiffin, his teammates and Tiger fans will remember is the resiliency of a team that mustered less than 200 yards of offense but found a way to win.

“That’s not bad for a bunch of whipper-snappers,” Godsey said of his inexperienced team. “I think this team, being young with young leaders, needed confidence. That’s what this will do for us.

“I just don’t have the vocabulary to express how hard these guys played tonight,” Godsey added.

Tiffin led the Tigers on game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, converting a pair of fourth downs. The first one, Tiffin scrambled for about 14 yards on fourth-and-nine to get new life.

Then Tiffin, lofted a pass to junior Jaylan Jackson, who went outjumped the Hillcrest defender at the nine-yard line for a 26-yard completion on fourth-and-11.

“I just told my quarterback to throw it up there where I can catch it and I would make a play, and that’s what I did,” Jackson said. “He stepped up big for us tonight. I’ve never been more proud of him in all my life.”

The Tigers’ drive stalled at the 6-yard line, but Jack Waterman hit a 20-yard field goal with 1:09 to play, knotting the game at 8-8.

Hartselle’s defense was outstanding throughout the game. They held the Patriots to about 100 yards of offense and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. The only points came off a blocked punt and a field goal in overtime, which is because the Patriots started on Hartselle’s 10-yard line.

Godsey said his team responded after a disappointing outing against Huntsville in its preseason game.

“Defensively, the second quarter last week was a little embarrassing,” Godsey said. “More importantly, it was embarrassing to those guys that came back tonight and played outstanding.”

The Tigers built a 5-0 lead thanks to a 43-yard field goal by Waterman in the second quarter. After a kickoff return miscue that left Hillcrest on its own 9-yard line, Zach Pershin made contact with Hillcrest’s Charles Bester in the Patriots’ end zone and didn’t let go. Five more Tigers helped gang tackle Bester for a safety.

The Tigers had a chance to add to its lead after Tiffin connected with Tanner Oakes on a 40-yard screen pass play. But Hillcrest broke through the line and blocked a field goal.

Hillcrest had a chance to score late in the third quarter, but Waid Miller stripped the Patriot runner of the ball. Toby Swims fell on the loose ball at the Hartselle 9.

The Patriots then took advantage of another miscue in the kicking game. After going three-and-out, Hillcrest blocked the ensuing punt and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. They converted the two-point conversion to give Hillcrest an 8-5 lead with just under five minutes to play.

However, that’s when Tigers found a way to win.

The Tigers will travel to Lawrence County for its first region game of the 2013 season.

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