Hartselle and Muscle Shoals seem to always provide fireworks when they meet on the gridiron, and Friday night was no exception. Muscle Shoals came from behind to defeat Hartselle 55-49 in double overtime.
“We cost ourselves with three crucial turnovers, including two in our own territory that let Muscle Shoals build some momentum to get back in the game,” Hartselle coach Bryan Moore said. “Despite the turnovers, we battled back to get the game to overtime, where we came up just short.”
The Tigers got on the scoreboard first when Noah Lee scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
Hartselle extended their lead to 14-0 with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that took 5:14 off the clock to start the second quarter. Ri Fletcher capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Fletcher’s second touchdown of the second quarter gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead with 3:05 left in the half. The drive went 60 yards in seven plays.
Muscle Shoals cut into the lead to 21-7 with a 6-play, 53-yard drive capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:10 remaining in the half.
The Trojans then recovered a muffed kickoff at the Hartselle 26-yard line and converted the turnover into seven points with a 26-yard run to make the score 21-16 with 59 seconds remaining.
Coming out of halftime, Muscle Shoals tied the game at 21-21 with a five-play, 33-yard drive that took 2:12 off the clock.
Hartselle got tremendous field positioning after a 48-yard Lincoln Bryant kickoff return to the Muscle Shoals 42-yard line. Fletcher went 10 yards for his third touchdown to cap off a 5-play, 42-yard drive that took one minute and 31 seconds. The score gave the Tigers a 28-21 lead with 8:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a Hartselle fumble inside their own five-yard line, the Trojans took advantage with a four-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28-28. Muscle Shoals extended their lead to 35-38 with a 68-yard touchdown run following a Tigers turnover-on-downs.
Bryant scored on a 2-yard run to tie the game at 35-35 with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter.
The Trojans again extended their lead to seven points, 42-35, with a 41-yard touchdown run with 6:06 left.
After forcing a Muscle Shoals punt, Hartselle took possession at the Tigers’ 45-yard line with 0:26.1 left. Hartselle moved to the Muscle Shoals 40-yard line following a pass interference penalty. Lee then hit Fletcher with a 40-yard touchdown pass with 0:14.1 left to tie the game at 42-42 and send it to overtime.
In the first overtime, Muscle Shoals had the opening possession and scored on a fourth-down, four-yard run to go up 49-42.
Hartselle responded with a four-play drive, capped off by a fourth-down, four-yard pass from Lee to Marcus Tapscott to tie the game at 49-49.
The Tigers opened the second overtime but failed to score when a low snap cost Hartselle a chance at a field goal. Muscle Shoals took the win two plays later with a one-yard touchdown run to win 55-49.
The Tigers finished with 413 total yards, 253 yards rushing and 160 yards passing.
Fletcher led Hartselle with 168 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 28 carries while hauling in two passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 213 total yards.
“Ri is a special player,” Moore said. “I am sure that Muscle Shoals is looking forward to the day he graduates.”
Bryant had nine carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Lee had nine carries for 32 yards and a touchdown. Tapscott led the Tigers with five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Three players led the defense with 11 tackles: Porter Simmons, Ja’kaleb Goodwin and Jameson Falciani. Peyton Steele added 10 tackles. Simmons and Jake Haynes each had a sack, while Steele had a forced fumble that Andrew Carroll recovered.
Hartselle (5-2, 2-1) will host Athens (5-1, 2-1) in a critical 6A Region 7 matchup on Friday.