Tigers roll past Raiders
On Friday, the Marshall County Tigers (2-3, 1-2 District) picked up a much needed win when they defeated the Spring Hill Raiders 37-13 at home to snap a three-game losing streak.
MCHS took control of the game early and built a 30-0 lead in the first half before forging a 37-0 advantage with 4:43 left in the third quarter en route to claiming their third straight win over Spring Hill (0-5, 0-4 District).
"I'm very happy to get a W. We had two tough games back to back, but the kids worked hard this week and gave us everything they had," said Marshall County coach Aaron Pitts. "We were able to play some of our backups tonight and it's always good to get our young kids some playing time so they can get some experience."
Bolstered by their strong first half performance, the Tigers finished with 299 yards of total offense, which included 213 yards rushing on 36 carries.
Tailback Malik Crawford broke off several long runs and led Marshall County's rushing attack with 138 yards on seven carries.
"Malik has a lot of talent and we're trying to push him to be the best player he can be," said Pitts. "When he puts his best foot forward, he can be a great asset for our team."
Tiger quarterback Austin Stacey also toted the ball 13 times for 40 yards and a touchdown, while Kevin Peterson added 23 yards rushing and three touchdowns on nine carries. Peyton Williams rushed for 16 yards on six carries as well.
Stacey kept Spring Hill's defense honest by completing 5-of-7 passes for 86 yards. Chris Walker was Stacey's main target and caught three passes for 69 yards, while Rhye Stephens and Peterson each had one reception for nine and eight yards respectively.
Placekicker Aaron Medley also played a role in MCHS' victory, as he booted a school record 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, converted 3-of-4 extra points, and blasted five out of seven kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Spring Hill sputtered offensively for much of the night and committed four turnovers while mustering just 199 yards from scrimmage overall, which included a mere 87 yards through the first three quarters of play.
Marshall County was particularly tough against the run and limited the Raiders to only 97 yards rushing on 39 carries.
"I still think the strength of our team is our defensive line. They played well tonight and showed our crowd what they can do," said Pitts.
Rodney Harvell paced Spring Hill's ground game with 40 yards on 14 carries, while backup quarterback Tylin Oden tallied 27 yards and a touchdown on two carries. Demario Booker rushed for 25 yards on eight carries as well.
Raider quarterback Cole Barksdale was ineffective throwing the ball and completed just 2-of-10 passes for 19 yards while tossing two interceptions. Oden replaced Barksdale late in the third quarter and completed 5-of-10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Booker led Spring Hill's receiving corps by snaring four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Jalen Jones and defensive lineman Jay Murphy racked up 12 and 11 tackles respectively to lead Marshall County's defensive effort with Jones recording a sack . Rakeem Alexander and Brandon Outzen also notched eight tackles apiece, while Mariel Nicholson and Antonio Shelton each registered six tackles with Nicholson tallying an interception. Walker picked off a pass for the Tigers as well, and Hasain Jefferson and Quantae Alderson both recovered Raider fumbles.
The Tigers forced a three and out by Spring Hill to begin the game before starting their first possession at the Raider 26 thanks to a short kick by punter Patrick O'Reilly.
Crawford was dropped for a five-yard loss on the opening play of Marshall County's drive, but Stacey completed consecutive passes of eight and 16 yards to Peterson and Walker respectively to give MCHS a 1st and goal at the 7. Stacey then scored on a seven-yard touchdown run before Medley converted the extra point go give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Alderson recovered a Barksdale fumble at the Spring Hill 14 a few moments later, but the Raiders quickly regained possession when O'Reilly ripped the ball out of Peterson's hands on a sweep play and returned it to the Marshall County 35.
Spring Hill failed to cash in on the good field position and was stopped on downs at the 26 before Stacey hit Walker for a 44-yard gain on a 2nd and 12 pass to move the ball down to the Raider 32.
The Tigers failed to advance any further into Spring Hill territory due to a motion penalty and a sack by O'Reilly and Bradley Denton, but Medley came in and nailed a 50-yard field goal attempt to stretch MCHS' lead to 10-0 with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
"I was completely relaxed. When I looked up, I thought this is a short kick and had complete confidence that I would make it," said Medley.
Following a Raider punt, Peterson scored on a two-yard touchdown plunge on Marshall County's ensuing possession to make it 16-0 in the waning seconds of the first quarter after Crawford broke loose for a 65-yard run on the previous play. Medley missed the extra point to keep the margin at 16 points.
After Nakedron Oden returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to midfield, Spring Hill advanced to the Tiger 37 with the help of a 10-yard catch by Harvell, but Walker picked off Barksdale three plays later to snuff out the Raider scoring threat.
On MCHS next possession, Stacey and Crawford ripped off consecutive runs of 22 and 38 yards before Peterson scored on a nine-yard touchdown jaunt. Medley then tacked on the extra point to make it 23-0 with 9:21 remaining in the second quarter.
Things quickly got worse for Spring Hill, as Nicholson intercepted Barksdale and returned the ball 32 yards to the Raider 6. Although Nicholson fumbled the ball at the end of the return, fellow Tiger defensive back Barry Mayes scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone for a touchdown before Medley converted the extra point to push Marshall County's lead to 30-0.
After coming up empty on their final two drives of the first half, Spring Hill recovered an onside kick attempt at the start of the third quarter but once again failed to reach pay dirt and lost the ball on downs at the MCHS 12.
Following a Marshall County punt, the Tigers regained possession when Raider return man Jezzarius Allen had the ball go through his hands and Jefferson pounced on the pigskin at the Spring Hill 17.
Peterson then burrowed his way into the end zone from one-yard out four plays later while Alex Swain made the extra point to stake MCHS to a 37-0 advantage.
Spring Hill finally got on the board against the Tiger reserves and cut the deficit to 37-7 with 3:07 left in the fourth quarter when Tylin Oden hit Booker for a 12-yard TD pass to cap a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive.
The Raiders then stopped Marshall County on downs before Oden scored on a 27-yard touchdown scamper for the 37-13 final.