Tyler Waugh scored four second-half touchdowns to lead Briarwood Christian to a 31-17 victory over Hartselle in the first round of the 6A state playoffs Friday night.
“We played hard tonight,” said Hartselle Coach Bryan Moore. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively to keep Briarwood off the field in the second half.”
The first half was dominated by both defenses, with 10 points total scored by the offenses.
Briarwood jumped out in front with a 33-yard field goal from Jakob Brower with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter. Hartselle answered with the only offensive touchdown of the first half, scoring on a 16-play, 88-yard drive that took 6:07 off the clock to take a 7-3 lead. Mookie Moore got the ball across the goal line from one yard out to cap off the drive.
In the second quarter, Coleman Mizell and the Tiger defense came up with a big play to extend the Hartselle lead to 14-3. Mizell batted a pitch from Briarwood quarterback Christopher Vizzina and then pulled it out of the air for an interception and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
Briarwood threatened a couple of times late in the second quarter, but the Hartselle defense made two crucial fourth-down stops to keep the Lions off the scoreboard.
”For us to be up 14-3 at halftime was huge,” said Moore.
The Lions opened the second half with an 81-yard drive to cut the Hartselle lead to 14-10 when Waugh scored on a two-yard run with 8:14 left in the third.
The Tigers responded with a Crawford Lang 51-yard field goal to extend their lead to 17-10.
Briarwood tied the game at 17-17 when Waugh scored his second touchdown from two yards out with 2:10 remaining in the third.
Following a Hartselle three-and-out, the Lions took a 24-17 lead when Waugh scored his third touchdown on a seven-yard run with 10:26 left in the fourth.
Briarwood capped off the scoring when Waugh scored from eight yards out to extend their lead to 31-17 with 1:04 remaining. The score was set up by a Waugh interception of a Parker Sawyer pass intended for Trent Wright.
The Tigers’ final drive started with their longest play of the night, a 32-yard completion to Izayah Fletcher from JT Blackwood that got Hartselle into Briarwood territory. Following two incompletions, Blackwood’s third-down pass was intercepted by Waugh to end the drive and the game.
“Our kids got so much better as the year went on,” said Moore. “This has been a tough year but an extremely rewarding year.”
Hartselle says goodbye to 13 seniors who laid a firm foundation for Tiger football’s future. They include Sawyer, Wright, EJ Colbert, Kelvin Morris, Seth Lockett, Ryan Garrison, Mac Hardin, Tevin Shields, Caleb Simmons, Eli Snelson, Brian Tolbert, KJ McGhee, and Xander Waddell.
Sawyer and Colbert have played for Moore for the past three seasons, including his stop at Jasper.
“I am thankful they decided to come to Hartselle,” said Moore. “It was tough for them to come to a new place. Their teammates chose them as captains for tonight’s game, which says a lot about how they fit our program.
The Tigers’ season comes to an end at 7-4 in Moore’s first year as Hartselle’s head coach.
“I am thankful to be here at Hartselle and be a part of this community,” said Moore. ”I love Hartselle. I hate that we won’t be coming into work Sunday.”