Marshall County goes to 8-0
With their two biggest tests of the season coming up, the Marshall County Tigers (8-0, 5-0 Region) passed another pop quiz Friday night when they defeated the Spring Hill Raiders 44-28 at Preston Hopkins Field.
MCHS actually trailed 14-7 midway through the second quarter, but Spring Hill (1-7, 1-4 Region) gift wrapped a safety for the Tigers on a botched punt attempt that seemed to completely swing the momentum of the game and cut the deficit to 14-9.
After notching touchdowns on their next two offensive possessions to take a 23-14 lead into the break, Marshall County outscored the Raiders 21-0 through the first 16 minutes of the second half to forge a 44-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter, before Spring Hill tallied the final 14 points of the contest.
Friday's victory over the Raiders now sets up a much anticipated battle of unbeaten teams this week when Marshall County hosts defending Class AAA state champ David Lipscomb with the winner taking over the top spot in Region 5/AAA.
While MCHS ended up winning comfortably, Marshall County head coach Don Thomas was displeased with his team's lack of focus at the start of the contest. "I was very upset with our composure and thought we came out flat in the first quarter. It showed that we were out of school all week on Fall Break," said Thomas.
Facing a Spring Hill defense that was allowing a staggering 43.8 points per game, the Tigers ripped off numerous big plays against the Raiders and racked up 419 yards of total offense overall.
Marshall County did much of their damage on the ground and gashed Spring Hill for 278 yards rushing while averaging a robust 7.5 yards per carry.
Senior tailback Justin Braden was the feature performer in the Tigers' offensive attack, as he rushed for a season high 225 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries.
Backup tailback Cody Tucker also rumbled for 63 yards and a couple of scores for MCHS on 14 carries.
Quarterback Jake Morris supplemented Marshall County's running game by completing 9 of 16 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
With starting receivers Broderick Tears and David Tadajewski sidelined by injuries for the second straight week, senior wide out Kareem Peterson was once again Morris' primary target and hauled in six passes for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Tight end Jordan Anderson also had two receptions for 19 yards, while Tucker caught one pass for six yards.
Although Spring Hill amassed 309 yards of total offense, the Tiger defense managed to hold the Raiders scoreless on seven straight possessions and forced three second-half turnovers.
"We've got a big task coming up next week. Our defense is going to have to step up and play well for all four quarters against David Lipscomb," said Thomas.
Aided by a pair of long scrambles by starting quarterback Broc Loveless, Spring Hill rushed for 160 yards on 34 carries. Loveless ran for 86 yards and a touchdown on nine carries to pace the Raider ground game, while tailback Jamal Pride added 37 yards on five carries. Travis Carter also tallied 32 yards rushing on seven carries to go along with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 13-yard TD catch.
Loveless completed seven of 14 passes for 88 yards as well, while tossing one touchdown and one interception. Backup quarterback Chris Amason relieved Loveless in the fourth quarter and completed all eight pass attempts for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Wide out Xavier Lee led Spring Hill's receiving corps with four catches for 32 yards, while Carter finished with two receptions for 30 yards.
Defensive tackle Michael Murphy was a force in the trenches for the Tigers and recorded a team high nine tackles to go along with a fumble recovery. Defensive end Eric Cottle also registered eight tackles and a sack, and Kareem Peterson and Shelby Sharp both notched six tackles. Pressley Lackey and Andrew Deleon tallied five and four tackles respectively with Deleon recovering a fumble as well, while Cody Tucker had an interception.
Marshall County sliced right through Spring Hill's defense on their opening possession of the game by marching 61 yards to the end zone in five plays to take a 7-0 lead. After catching a 12-yard pass on the second play of the drive, Peterson hauled in a 36-yard reception down the right sideline two snaps later. Tucker then slammed his way into the end zone from three yards out before Sam Estes split the uprights on the extra point.
MCHS' lead proved to be short lived, as the Raiders put together a six-play 74-yard touchdown drive to knot the game at 7-7. Pride sandwiched runs of 19 and 11 yards around a 27-yard reception by fullback T.J. Hardin to move the ball down to the Tiger 17. Loveless then found Carter in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown strike three plays later while Tim Saye converted the extra point.
Spring Hill was back in business a few minutes later, as they recovered a fumble at the Tiger 34. The Raiders cashed in on the turnover seven plays later when Loveless scored on a two-yard run to make it a 14-7 with 1:17 left in the first period.
Marshall County saw their next drive stall out at the Spring Hill 11, but the Tiger defense forced a three-and-out by the Raiders. Disaster then