Trojans shut out RussellvillePublished 5:59am Saturday, September 8, 2012
By: Slade Gilmer
For the FCT
MUSCLE SHOALS — One week after Russellville’s rushing offense cranked out 405 yards rushing against Deshler, the Golden Tiger offense hit a big roadblock against Class 5A’s second-ranked Muscle Shoals Trojans.
The Trojans, boasting nine starters from a defense that gave up an average of 11.2 points per game, showed why they are one of the favorites to reach the state finals with a 43-0 win over Russellville in the Class 5A, Region 8 opener for both squads at James F. Moore Stadium on Friday, Sept. 7.
The Golden Tigers gained 128 yards total for the game—only 65 on the ground—as Muscle Shoals produced its second-straight shutout over the Golden Tigers. The Trojans defeated Russellville 24-0 in 2011.
“Against a good football team, you have to make big plays,” Golden Tiger head coach Michael Jackson said. “Tonight, every time we got something going, it seemed like Muscle Shoals would throw us for a big loss or we would get a penalty to knock us back.”
After Muscle Shoals and Russellville exchanged punts on their first drive, the Trojans used their veer offense to produce the game’s first points. Nine carries gained 46 yards and a pass got 22, as the Trojans drove to Russellville’s six before false start on second-and-goal stalled the drive. Blake Logan knocked home a 23-yard field goal to give Muscle Shoals a 3-0 lead.
The Russellville offense showed some life on the next drive, as freshman quarterback Landon Smothers hit Bud Coleman for a 28-yard gain on a second-and-27 play to move the ball into Muscle Shoals territory. However, two plays later, Trojan cornerback Levi Fell intercepted a Smothers pass at his own five-yard line.
This time, the Trojans didn’t attempt a pass before getting the ball into the end zone. After five carries got the ball to the Muscle Shoals 33, Jamarcus Nance took a handoff and juked several Golden Tiger defenders before scampering 67 yards for a touchdown. Logan’s extra-point made the score 10-0.
After a three-and-out, the Trojans again ground out a touchdown drive, this time a seven play, 56 yard drive that ended when quarterback Ryan Ware snuck in for a one-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. The extra-point attempt was no good, giving Muscle Shoals a 16-0 lead they would carry into the locker room at halftime.
Russellville got the ball first to start the second half, and the first two plays saw the Golden Tigers move the ball into Muscle Shoals territory. However, on the next play, Dee Liner—a Trojan lineman who has committed to Auburn and had been suspended for violating team rules—threw Russellville running back Bud Coleman for a seven-yard loss, which stopped the drive and caused another punt.
Muscle Shoals gained eight yards on the first three plays of the drive, but rather than punt, the Trojans put the ball in the hands of their offense on fourth-and-two. Ware pitched to Nance on an option, who scooted past the Golden Tiger defenders for a 45-yard touchdown. The two-point try was no good, making the score 22-0.
The Golden Tigers’ best drive came on the next drive, as the Golden Tigers drove 66 yards to the Trojan 10-yard line. However, a sack by Logan on third down caused a 15-yard loss and a fourth down pass attempt to Chris Owens fell incomplete.
The Trojans once again used their ground attack, moving the ball to the Golden Tiger 45 on four rushes. However, on the fifth play of the drive, Ware faked to Nance and hit Javian Ramson in stride for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Logan’s extra point made the score 29-0.
After three consecutive drives ended with punts, Muscle Shoals took over at the Golden Tiger 25. Two plays later, Martavius Mims took a handoff and rushed 19 yards into the end zone. Logan’s extra-point made the score 36-0.
On the next Golden Tiger drive, Muscle Shoals recovered a fumble at the Golden Tiger 19. Two plays later, Demetrius Abernathy rushed in, and the extra point was converted to make the final score 43-0.
For the game, Muscle Shoals only completed two passes for 67 yards, but ran for 346 for a total of 413 yards. Meanwhile, the Golden Tigers were held to 128 yards total offense—65 on the ground, 63 through the air. Tyler Boyd led the way rushing, with 59 yards on 11 carries. Smothers was 5-for-12 for 63 yards passing.
Despite the loss, Jackson thought there were some good things going for Russellville.
“We did some positive things against them. Overall, though, Muscle Shoals just did an excellent job of executing their game plan against us.”
Jackson stated that the focus for Russellville (1-1, 0-1 in Class 5A, Region 8) now goes to next week’s showdown with the East Limestone Indians. The Indians defeated the Golden Tigers 37-28 last season, a win that propelled them to second place in the region.
“Next week’s game against East Limestone is huge,” said Jackson. “We’d like to get another chance at (Muscle Shoals) in the playoffs, and to do that, we need to win as many region games as we can.”
East Limestone is 0-2 on the season and also 0-1 in 5A, Region 8 play after a 30-21 loss to Cullman on Friday night.