Etowah falls to Russellville 49-6

Etowah’s Dominick Pinson fumbles while being tackled by Russellville’s Tyrone Wilson during Friday’s Class 5A state high school football playoff game in Attalla. (Photo by Nick johnston | Gadsden Times)

ATTALLA — Turnovers and mistakes were Etowah’s undoing, as Russellville knocked the Blue Devils out of the first round of the Class 5A state high school football playoffs with a 49-6 win.

The Golden Tigers took advantage of Blue Devil turnovers and feasted on big plays to end the season for Etowah (7-4).

“We have quality young men; they work hard and try hard,” Etowah coach Sam McCorkle said. “It was just one of those thing where nothing went right. I have to give them (Russellville) credit, but we couldn’t get a break. It was kind of a freaky  game, with the long fumble returns and long runs from scrimmage. I don’t think there’s that much difference between the teams.”

The Blue Devils were only outgained in total yardage 325-270, but they turned the ball over five times and were unable to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented.

“We couldn’t put it all together,” McCorkle said. “We thought we could run on them and we did run on them, but we got in some situations where we had to change what we wanted to do.”

The very first drive of the game foreshadowed what was to come. Etowah’s Dominick Pinson fumbled the ball and the Golden Tigers’ Oscar Graham picked it up and ran 55 yards for a score. Adam Brown’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:46 left in the first quarter.

Late in the period, CJ Posey ran around left end and blazed to the end zone for a 70-yard score to make it 14-0.

Etowah marched deep into Russellville territory on the next drive, but Bishop was intercepted by Jordan Gist inside the Golden Tiger 10 to end the threat. Four times in the first half the Blue Devils marched into Russellville territory but could not come away with points.

Another Pinson fumble was returned for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Kaelan Bonds rumbled 60 yards for a score with 7:52 until halftime to make it 21-0.

Big plays continued to be Russellville’s forté, as Tyler Boyd sprinted for a 69-yard score on the next Golden Tiger possession to make it 28-0.

Russellville capped its big first half on a 6-yard Bud Coleman touchdown run with 1:45 left in the second period to make it a 35-0 game.

The Golden Tigers (9-2) had 228 yards in the first half.

Russellville continued the torrid scoring pace in the third quarter. Coleman plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out with 8:38 to go in the period to cap a seven play, 51-yard drive.

Landon Smothers threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Coleman to push the lead to 49-0 with 5:49 left in the period.

The Blue Devils finally got on the board on the next drive. A three-play, 72-yard possession contained three consecutive passes from Bishop. His last was a 21-yard scoring toss to Xavier Caldwell with 4:30 to go in the third to post the final score. The extra point was no good.

Bishop was 11 of 20 passing for 173 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Pinson rushed 10 times for 34 yards and caught a pair of passes for only 5 yards. Glen Williams and Dakota Parrish each covered a fumble.

Smothers was 6 of 6 passing for 108 yards. Boyd and Posey had 105 and 83 yards rushing, respectively. Shemar Hamilton and Daniel Betancourt each had an interception for Russellville.

“I really hate it for our players to finish this way, especially the seniors,” McCorkle said. “They’ve been with us the whole time we’ve been here, I’m proud of every one of them and I love every one of them.”