E.A. Sports Today

Anniston falls on late TD

Bulldogs grab lead with 8:21 left, but Russellville scores game-winner in final two minutes

Special to East Alabama Sports Today

RUSSELLVILLE — For the second week in a row Russellville got the job done defensively, and this time it was in the playoffs.

The sixth-ranked Golden Tigers ended Anniston’s second-half upset bid, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes and then knocking away a last-second desperation pass, to seal a 10-7 victory in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.

The Bulldogs (4-6) took a 7-3 lead on Tae Miller’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Chris Beard with 8:21 to play and held in until the final two minutes.

With a shade over two minutes to play, Russellville junior quarterback Payton Nichols took over on its own 20-yard line needing a score to stay alive. Nichols got it on the second play, breaking off a 75-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in the game.

The Russellville defense stopped Anniston from scoring on a Hail Mary pass to end the game.

“(The defense) played lights out,” Russellville coach Mark Heaton said. “They have showed up big for us and have made big plays when we needed them.”

The Russellville defense held Anniston to just 34 total yards in the first half on 10 plays, but the Bulldogs improved in the second half and finished with 177 yards for the game.

“If we can hold (a team) to 14 points or less, I feel like we have a chance to win every game,” Heaton said. “We held them to seven and almost didn’t score enough points.”

The first half started slow, as Russellville’s first possession ended on a missed 35-yard field goal by Marvin Betancourt.

After forcing to Anniston to punt, the Golden Tigers (10-1) put together a 19-play, 64-yard drive capped by a 37-yard Betancourt field goal for the first points of the game.

Senior running back Deyon Hill led Russellville with 116 yards on 23 carries. Nichols finished 7 of 12 passing with 67 yards, while adding 69 yards on the ground.

Russellville 10, Anniston 7

Anniston 0 0 0 7 — 7
Russellville 0 3 0 7 — 10

R — Marvin Betancourt 37 FG, 5:50 2Q
A – Chris Beard 47 pass from Tae Miller (PAT kick), 8:21 4Q
R — Payton Nichols 75 run (PAT kick), 1:35 4Q

Team stats Ann Russ
First downs 7 12
Rushes-yds 25-77 34-196
C-A-I 9-20-0 7-12-1
Passing yds 100 67
Fumbles-lost 3-0 2-0
Punts-avg 3-41.6 2-35.0
Penalties-yds 7-55 3-25

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