Tigers defeat Notre Dame
Everything went according to plan for the Marshall County Tigers on Friday night, as they defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 28-6 in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs at Preston Hopkins Field.
Mixing in some timely play action passes with their usually potent running game, the Tigers built a 21-0 lead in the first half before opening up a 28-0 advantage early in the fourth quarter en route to claiming their eighth victory of the year.
With their triumph over Notre Dame, the Tigers recorded their first playoff win since 2007 and advanced to the second round where they will take on Sequoyah, who defeated Red Bank 27-22 in their postseason opener.
Facing a Notre Dame defense that was giving up 30 points per game, Marshall County rolled up 386 yards of total offense, which included 325 yards rushing on 58 carries.
"This was the best week of practice that we've had since I've been at Marshall County. I don't think our kids could play any better than they did tonight," said MCHS coach Tom Turchetta. "They had eight and nine guys in the box and we were still able to run the football."
Senior tailback Trevor Irizarry etched his name into Marshall County's record books for the second time in two weeks, as he set the Tigers' single season rushing mark after toting the ball 36 times for 248 yards and a touchdown. Thanks to Friday's performance, Irizarry passed former Tiger standout Ray Hightower and now has 1,759 yards rushing this season.
Kevin Peterson also added 28 yards and a touchdown on six carries and caught two passes for seven yards, while Quinnie White rushed for 27 yards on nine attempts.
Quarterback Austin Stacey supplemented MCHS' ground attack by completing 5-of-8 passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns to go along with one interception. J.B. Reese, Dusty Nance, and Irizarry each had one catch for 24, 20, and 10 yards respectively with Reese and Nance each scoring.
Sophomore placekicker Aaron Medley turned in another strong effort for the Tigers and converted all four extra point attempts while blasting three kickoffs into the end zone.
After averaging 33.7 points per game in their 10 previous contests, the Fighting Irish experienced an offensive famine against Marshall County, as they committed two turnovers and finished with a modest 232 yards from scrimmage overall, which included 126 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Notre Dame quarterback Josh Moore passed for 1,835 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season, but was never allowed to get into a rhythm by the Tigers, as he completed only 8-of-18 throws for 106 yards and one TD. Moore also rushed for a team high 62 yards on six carries, while freshman tailback Auston Banks had 40 yards on seven attempts.
Marshall County limited ND's leading rusher Shaqualm McCoy to just 22 yards on eight carries after he racked up 1,207 yards in the regular season. Matt Reilly was Moore's primary receiver and caught four passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Dre Lyttle, Cody Newsom, and Dutch Church notched four tackles apiece to pace the Tiger defense with Newsom recovering two fumbles. Quan Greer, Jalen Jones, Dusty Nance, and Mariel Nicholson each recorded three tackles as well, while Davey Maddox had two tackles and a sack.
Marshall County set the tempo early and marched 67 yards to the end zone in 13 plays on their opening drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown catch by Nance, to grab a 7-0 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
On Notre Dame's ensuing possession, Newsom recovered an Irish fumble at the ND 35 before Peterson scored on a five-yard touchdown run seven plays later to give the Tigers a 14-0 advantage late in the opening period.
Following an exchange of punts, Notre Dame drove from their own 37 to the MCHS 8 with the help of an 11-yard catch by Reilly and runs of 19 and 25 yards by McCoy and Banks respectively.
After picking up just five yards on their next three plays, the Irish attempted a fake field goal and had a receiver open in the right corner of the end zone, but Blaise DiStefano was unable to catch an errant pass from Christian San Miguel and Notre Dame came away empty handed.
The Tigers picked up three first downs on eight straight running plays to advance to the ND 36, before Taylor Bankston picked off Stacey and returned the interception 27 yards to the MCHS 39 with 1:05 left in the first half.
Marshall County's defense then bowed it's neck and stopped the Irish on downs with the help of a sack by Maddox.
Although MCHS started their final drive of the half with only 25 seconds left, the Tigers managed to reach pay dirt, as Reese hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Stacey to make it 21-0 after Irizarry broke loose for a 41-yard run on the previous play.
In the second half, the two teams exchanged punts before Moore ripped off a 45-yard run on Notre Dame's second offensive series to move the ball down to the Marshall County 11. The Irish failed to cash in once again, as Banks fumbled on the next play and Newsom pounced on the pigskin at the 13.
Marshall County then put the game away by engineering a 16-play, 87-yard scoring drive, which was punctuated by an Irizarry two-yard touchdown plunge, to forge a 28-0 lead with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame spoiled MCHS' shutout bid in the waning moments of the contest when Moore hit Reilly for a 76-yard touchdown strike with 1:10 remaining for the 28-6 final.