Hartselle holds off Austin to finish season 8-2Published 11:19pm Friday, November 1, 2013
If Tanner Oakes had his way, he would like to be the new No. 14 for the Hartselle football team.
“I don’t want to give it up,” Oakes said about his 109-yard performance in a 38-31 win over Austin Friday night. “I think I’m going to have to switch with Caleb Finn.”
Oakes and other Hartselle seniors changed jerseys on senior night to honor their fathers, a tradition that started with last year’s senior class. Oakes’ father, Wade, wore No. 14 in his high school days at Brewer.
Just like last year’s seniors, Oakes benefitted from the new jersey, as he posted a season high in receiving yards. And the Tigers (8-2) needed every last yard to help hold off an explosive Austin team.
“if there was a team that could help us prepare for the playoffs, it was Austin,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey. “We needed to play a team like this that can score. We can’t win every game 14-7. Sometimes you have to find different ways to win including winning a 38-31 game. We just have to keep getting better and finding ways to win each week.”
Hartselle and Austin combined for exactly 500 yards of offense in the first half and and 777 yards for the game. The two teams were locked in a shootout in the first half.
Masio Stover put Hartselle on the board first with a six-yard touchdown run with only 100 seconds off the clock.
Austin rallied as Chris Sparkman hit Alexander Smith for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Then David Jaimes hit a 35-yard field goal to give Austin its only lead of the game at 10-7 at the end of the quarter.
The teams put up five touchdowns in the second quarter, three from Hartselle and two from Austin. D’Andre Mack put Hartselle back up with a 14-yard touchdown. Jake Tiffin found the new No. 14 in stride for a touchdown. Stover capped off Hartselle’s scoring with a 1-yard touchdown with 1:01 to play.
Austin’s Sparkman added his second touchdown on a 35-yard strike to Ashton Kracke. Then after Stover’s late TD, Brandon Watkins capped a quick three-play drive on a two-yard touchdown to cut the Hartselle lead to 28-24.
It would stay that way through the third quarter, but Mack’s second score on a 19-yard run put Hartselle up 35-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Then after Austin was forced to punt, Hartselle went on a 15-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up just over six minutes to seal the win. Jack Waterman nailed a 29-yard field goal to put the Tigers ahead 38-24 with 2:57 to play.
“Those are the types of drives that you need in a game like this,” Godsey said. “It was huge for us to eat up about six minutes of clock and get that field goal. We probably score a touchdown if I don’t get us a penalty there, but I was so proud of our team for that drive.”
Austin didn’t give up, as Sparkman hit Joshua Pearson for a six-yard touchdown with 1:32 to play.
Austin attempted an onside kick, but Lane Anders covered up the kick, giving Hartselle a chance to run out the clock over the next four plays. Anders also had an interception to end the first half.
Stover finished the night with 126 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns while Mack had 155 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Stover, who returned to the lineup last week wearing a cast on his hand, said he’s really seen an improvement in the offensive line, quarterback and receivers from the first couple of games this season.
“Everyone is really blocking well for us,” Stover said. “The offensive line is doing a great job. The receivers have really started to block well on running plays. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”
Hartselle will travel to Pinson Valley (6-4) for the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.