Tigers stomp Spartans on Homecoming
Despite getting off to a slow start, the Marshall County Tigers (3-4, 2-3 District) made sure their fans had a happy Homecoming when they defeated the Summit Spartans 45-12 at Preston Hopkins Field on Friday night.
Having beaten Summit 35-0 last year, MCHS actually trailed 6-3 midway through the second quarter in Friday's contest due to a slew of first half penalties.
The Tigers, though, eventually righted the ship and tallied two touchdowns in the final six and a half minutes of the first half to take a 17-6 lead into the break before outscoring the Spartans 28-6 over the final two quarters to cruise to the 33-point victory.
"It's always good to get a win. Our kids came out and performed well tonight. We worked hard this week on our fundamentals and went back to the basics because we wanted to be more physical," said Marshall County coach Aaron Pitts. "We went through some adversity early on, but the kids didn't hang their heads and responded well."
Although they committed three turnovers in the contest and had several long gains called back because of penalties, including two touchdowns, the Tigers still finished with 328 yards of total offense.
Led by the triumvirate of quarterback Austin Stacey, multi threat talent Kevin Peterson, and tailback Malik Crawford the Tigers churned out 278 yards rushing while averaging a robust 7.5 yards per carry.
Stacey had a tough night throwing the ball and completed just 3-of-7 passes for 50 yards and two interceptions, but offset that by rushing for a team high 99 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Peterson also toted the ball 15 times for 95 yards and three TDs, while Crawford notched 80 yards on nine carries to go along with a 16-yard catch.
"Our offensive line performed well tonight and created some holes for our backs. It's always good to dominate upfront," said Pitts.
Tiger wide outs Rhye Stephens and Chris Walker each hauled in one pass for 20 and 14 yards respectively with Walker also returning an interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
MCHS placekicker Aaron Medley had another strong outing, as he hit a 47-yard field goal attempt, converted each of his four extra point attempts, and boomed all eight of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Alex Swain hit a pair of extra points for the Tigers as well.
Summit (2-5, 1-4 District) tallied 327 yards of total offense, but mustered just 190 yards through the first three quarters of play and committed three turnovers during that span.
Except for a handful of long runs by quarterback Dee Hunter and fullback John Gomoljack, MCHS did a respectable job of slowing down the Spartans triple option attack and recorded 11 tackles for loss while Summit rushed for 188 yards on 44 carries.
Seeing time at both quarterback and running back, Hunter toted the pigskin 20 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, but completed only 4-of-11 passes for 72 yards and an interception.
Gomoljack also rushed 78 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 109 yards, while Spartan backup quarterback J.C. Dryden completed 2-of-3 passes for 67 yards.
Defensive end Brandon Outzen racked up 12 tackles, recorded half a sack, and recovered a fumble to lead the Tiger defense, while Antonio Shelton, Jay Murphy, and Jalen Jones each notched 10 tackles with Murphy registering half a sack. Rakeem Alexander, Payne Smith, and O'Shea Tears had four tackles apiece as well with Tears recovering a fumble.
Following a three and out by Summit, Stacey was picked off by Cody Campbell on the Tigers' opening possession of the game before Marshall County forced another Spartan punt.
Starting their second drive at the Summit 48, the Tigers advanced down to the 24 with the help of a 18-yard run by Stacey, but Peterson had a 24-yard touchdown catch negated due to a MCHS personal foul penalty.
After Stacey scrambled for 14 yards on the next play, Marshall County was flagged for illegal motion and eventually had to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Medley to take a 3-0 lead with 3:12 left in the first quarter.
The two teams exchanged punts before the Spartans advanced from their own 20 to the MCHS 6 with the help of a 23-yard run by Hunter on a fake punt, a Gomoljack 40-yard catch, and two Tiger personal foul penalties. Hunter then scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 6:46 left in the second quarter, but Asher Anders missed the extra point attempt to keep the deficit at three.
Following a failed onside kick attempt by Summit, the Tigers reached pay dirt in just two plays to pull ahead 10-7. Crawford ripped off a 22-yard run on the opening play of the drive before Peterson scored on a 21-yard touchdown jaunt.
The Tiger defense set up the offense with excellent field position a few moments later when Tears pounced on a fumble by Gomoljack at the Spartan 17. Stacey then burrowed his way into the end zone from a yard out four plays later to give MCHS a 17-6 lead with 4:34 left in the half.
After holding the Spartans scoreless on their final two possessions of the first half, Marshall County began their opening drive of the third quarter at their own 46 thanks to another short kickoff by Summit. The Tigers once again cashed in on the favorable field position and stretched their lead to 24-6 when Peterson raced around the right end for a 16-yard touchdown run five plays later.
On the Spartans' ensuing possession, Summit moved the ball from their own 20 to the MCHS 43 with the aid of runs of 18 and 15 yards by Gomoljack and Hunter respectively, but Walker picked off a pass by Hunter and sprinted 70 yards to pay dirt to stake Marshall County to a 31-6 advantage midway through the third quarter.
The Spartans were forced to punt again on their next drive, but Chris Carr intercepted a Stacey pass and returned the ball 26 yards to Tiger 24. Hunter then scored on a 20-yard touchdown jaunt to trim the deficit to 31-12 with 1:47 left in the third quarter, but was stopped short of the goal line by Outzen on the two-point conversion run.
Following yet another unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Summit, Marshall County put together a seven-play, 49-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a one-yard TD run by Stacey to forge a 38-12 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After the Spartans drove deep into MCHS territory on their next possession thanks to a 52-yard run by Gomoljack, Outzen recovered a fumble by Dryden to snuff out the Summit scoring threat.
The Tigers then marched 80 yards to the end zone on nine straight running plays, punctuated by a 11-yard touchdown jaunt by Peterson, to cap their 45-12 victory.