By Jonathan Deal
HARTSELLE — For the fourth time this season, ninth-ranked Hartselle eclipsed the 40-point mark and earned its sixth victory as the defending state champions clamped down on East Limestone 47-7 in a Class 5A, Region 8 matchup at J.P. Cain Stadium Friday night.
East Limestone (3-5, 2-4 Region 8) needed to upset the No. 9 Tigers to make a return trip to the playoffs. But Hartselle (6-2, 5-1) led 40-0 after three quarters to improve its chances for a home game in the first round of the playoffs and eliminated the Indians from playoff contention.
Hartselle, which has outscored its opponents 270-91 through eight games, led 19-0 after the first quarter on TD runs by Chris Slaton and Matthew Stover and an 87-yard fumble return for touchdown by Keshawn Vaughn.
Deacon Aldridge tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Zane Hamlet and Sidney Steele had a 10-yard run to put the Tigers ahead 33-0 at halftime.
DeAndre Mack had a pair of long scoring jaunts in the second half for Hartselle, including a 56-yarder in the third quarter and a 48-yarder in the fourth.
Brick Pugh ruined the Tigers’ bid for their third shutout this season when he scored the Indians’ lone touchdown on a quarterback sneak from the Hartselle 1-yard line. Mitchell Mathis added the extra point for the 47-7 final score.
Torren Haley paced East with 91 yards on 18 carries.
Hartselle’s Deacon Aldridge threw for 136 yards on 11 of 16 passing with one touchdown and an interception, while East’s Mathew Franks was 2 of 15 for 22 yards with two interceptions.
Both teams continue Region 8 action this Friday as East hosts West Point, while Hartselle travels to Russellville.