Tigers open region play with historic win over Cullman

The 6th-ranked Hartselle Tigers opened region play with a school-record 42-0 win over the visiting Cullman Bearcats. The previous largest margin of victory was 40-14 on October 10, 1980.

The Tigers have outscored Cullman 114-17 in their last three matchups.

“The win was the largest over Cullman in Hartselle’s history,” Hartselle head coach Bryan Moore said. “It was a hard-earned win for our team.”

The game was scoreless for the first 20:20 until Hartselle connected on a double pass from Landon Blackwood to Lincoln Bryant, who then connected with Noah Lee for a 56-yard touchdown pass with 3:40 left before halftime.

“Bryant’s touchdown pass to Noah was a tremendous spark for our team following multiple series without any points,” Moore said. “But the defensive stand on our end of the field led to the spark.”

After a three-and-out by Cullman and a 10-yard punt, the Tigers responded with a Ri Fletcher 32-yard run to give Hartselle a 14-0 lead with 2:32 left.

Hartselle scored their third touchdown in the final 3:40 of the first half when Blackwood connected with Bryant for an 18-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead heading into halftime.

Payton Steele’s pick-six 1:32 into the third quarter put the Tigers up 28-0 and deflated any spirit remaining in the Cullman stands.

“We were able to pour the points on at the end of the first half and the opening of the second half,” Moore said. “Seeing the offense scoring like they did tonight is a huge boost for us.”

Hartselle added another touchdown with 1:46 left in the third when quarterback Blackwood tossed an alley-oop pass to Markus Tapscott for a slam-dunk 51-yard touchdown pass.

The Tigers capped off the scoring when Gage Owenby scored on a one-yard run with 4:54 remaining, giving Hartselle a 42-0 lead.

The Tigers’ offense piled up a season-high 412 yards, including 228 yards passing and 184 yards rushing.

Blackwood finished with 164 yards passing and two touchdowns while rushing for 21 yards. Bryant passed for 56 yards and a touchdown while having 26 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Fletcher led the team with 81 yards rushing and a score on 12 carries. Lee led the team with 87 yards receiving and a touchdown on four receptions, while Tapscott had 67 yards receiving and a touchdown on three receptions.

The defense had three sacks and three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Steele, as they held the Cullman offense to less than 200 yards and zero points.

“The defense played really well all night long. Coach Newton made some tremendous calls, including on the interception by Jake Haynes,” Moore said. “Jace Preuitt had a huge sack in the first half that was followed up by sacks by Simmons and Baulding.”

Hartselle (2-1, 1-0) will travel to Columbia (0-3, 0-1) for a game at Milton Frank Stadium on Friday night.