Tigers run over Bulldogs
Friday night at Bratton Field in Centerville marked the thirty-third meeting between the Marshall County Tigers and Hickman County Fighting Bulldogs and after the home squad took an early second quarter lead on a defensive touchdown, the Tigers scored 28 unanswered points for the win to take a 23-7 advantage in the series.
"I knew this was going to be a tough battle," said MCHS head coach Tom Turchetta after the game. "I told the kids at the beginning when we started this thing going out to Coffee County. If this team is going to go where we think we can go, being on the road in hostile environments is good practice for us, we learn lessons from this."
Turchetta added, "Our goal is to win the region. We are not building for the future, we are built for now."
After a scoreless first quarter, Hickman County took a 7-0 lead on a 66-yard fumble recovery touchdown by Blake Johnson and the added point after touchdown kick by Lasse Hechmann.
The Bulldog score seemed to fire up and focus the MCHS offense as the embarked on an 84-yard, 16 play drive that ate up over seven minutes off the game clock.
The scoring drive had several key plays, including two big fourth down conversion runs by Kevin Peterson and Trevor Irizzory.
Tiger signal caller Austin Stacey capped the scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown scamper on a third and one play and Aaron Medley added the PAT to tie the contest at the 4:05 mark of quarter number two.
There was no more scoring the remainder of the first half as the two squads went to their respective locker rooms.
Medley booted the second half kickoff into the Bulldog endzone for a touchback, and after one first down on an 11-yard pass play from Aaron Hays to Cody White, the Tigers' defense bowed up and held on three straight snaps to force a Hickman County punt.
The Tigers took over at their own 32-yard line after the punt and faced a third down and four at the forty when Stacey drew the Bulldog offsides with a hard count for a first down.
Peterson ran the ball twice in succession, taking the rock to the Hickman County 28-yard line.
Irizorry rumbled for three yards and Dusty Nance gained one yard, setting up a third and six play from the Hickman County twenty-four.
The senior Irizorry, a Lawrence County High School transfer took the Stacey handoff and juked up the middle before beating the defense to the sideline, leaving the Bulldog defenders in the dust for the touchdown.
Medley's extra point was true and the Tigers would never trail again in the contest.
The Bulldogs had the ball after the MCHS score, facing a third and long when Tiger outside linebacker Rakeem "Preacher Man" Alexander stepped in front of a Hays pass and picked it off.
Alexander followed a wall of Tiger blockers into the endzone, pushing the MCHS lead to 21-7 after the Medley PAT.
Hickman County could not muster any offense and had to punt again with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter.
On the first drive of the final period, MCHS drove the ball near midfield, but had to punt the ball away after a third down incompletion by Stacey.
Hickman County, still one good drive away from being back in the game drove the ball deep into Marshall County territory, but their last chance was squashed when Tiger defensive lineman Jay Murphy came up with an interception, and rumbled to the Hickman County 32-yard line.
The Tigers were content to run the clock at that point and gave it up after three plays.
Hickman County took over and began to drive the ball.
They got some help from the MCHS defense as they committed a couple of personal fouls that moved the ball all the way to the MCHS 28-yard line with under a minute to play.
Mariel Nicholson ended any hope of a Bulldog comeback with an interception at the 8-yard line, and one play later, Irizorry rubbed some salt in the Bulldogs' wound when he raced untouched 92 yards for the score to make it 28-7 after Medley's extra point.
The Tigers (2-0) take on top-ranked 5A Columbia (3-0) at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg Friday night and Turchetta said, "I want everybody in Lewisburg, in Marshall County at the stadium next week in white shirts. Columbia Central, the number one team in the state is coming in, they are the visiting team, and they will be in white jerseys. We need everybody at Preston Hopkins in white so the visiting team will have a hard time seeing their people and they will have a lot of blue around them."
The Tigers put up 360 yards of total offense, including 41 rushes for 275 yards in the ground game.
Irizorry finished with 157 yards on 16 carries, Stacey ran 10 times for 51 yards (9-14 passing for 85 yards), and Peterson gained 49 yards on seven touches.
On defense, MCHS gave up just 24 yards rushing on 22 carries, but surrendered 190 yards in the air to the Bulldogs, and the Tigers committed ten penalties that accounted for 75 yards.