Tigers squander early lead, fall to Panthers
The Marshall County Tigers' playoff chances dimmed quite a bit Friday night in foggy, misty and soggy Hohenwald, losing 33-28 to Lewis County after squandering a 20-7 first quarter lead.
MCHS head coach Aaron Pitts said about his squad's dimming playoff hopes, "That was something I wish we would have taken care of tonight, we didn't, now are backs are against the wall and we have to keep on fighting to do what we can do to win these last two games."
The Panthers beat the Tigers the old-fashioned way, grinding out 359 yards on the ground with Ryan Bell leading the way with 201 yards rushing on 24 carries.
"They busted some runs that we thought we had taken of in practice, but obviously we didn't," said Pitts. "Again, that's coaching, not the kids fault, we have to do a better job."
Lewis County quarterback Lucas Graham rushed for 93 yards on 12 touches and had touchdown pass.
"They did exactly what we knew they were going to," said Pitts about the Panther running game. "I have to watch the film and see what happened; right now it looks like we just did not tackle well and we have to fix that problem."
The Tigers' defense stopped Lewis County in the initial possession of the game and proceeded to go on a 48-yard, seven-play scoring drive that was capped off by a nine-yard TD run by quarterback Austin Stacey.
Aaron Medley kicked the extra point for a 7-0 MCHS lead with 7:32 remaining in the first quarter, but the Panthers came right back to tie the game on four consecutive Bell runs, including a 54-yard jaunt on second down.
It didn't take long for Marshall County to strike back as Kevin Peterson took a first down pitch from Stacey and ran right before cutting back all the way across the field and racing 80 yards down the Lewis County sideline for a touchdown.
Medley's extra point was true again and the Tigers led 14-7.
MCHS forced another Lewis County punt with 3:06 remaining in the first quarter and continued the ground attack, rushing Peterson and Stacey down the field to the 10-yard line where Peterson took it into the end zone for a score.
Medley's kick was no good, but the Tigers led 20-7 with eight seconds left in the opening period.
Lewis County made it a 20-13 ballgame ten plays later, scoring on a Bell one-yard run with 8:34 remaining in the first half.
A two-point conversion run by Graham inched the Panthers closer at 20-15.
The Tigers went backwards on their next offensive series and had to punt.
Lewis County really began to grind it out on their next drive, executing 14 plays that covered over four minutes, resulting in a Graham six-yard TD pass to Zach Vandusen with 49 seconds left in the first half.
The two-point conversion try failed, but the Panthers had taken the lead for good at 21-20.
MCHS received the second half kickoff, but failed to move the ball and punted after a three-and-out.
Lewis County looked like they would have to punt after three plays on their next drive, but a killer offside call on the Tigers kept the drive alive and two plays later, Bell ran 41-yards down to the MCHS three-yard line before punching it in on the next play.
The Panthers' two-point conversion try failed again, but Lewis County was up 27-20 with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Marshall County had to punt again after just four plays and Bell dug the hole even deeper when he ran it to pay dirt from 47 yards out moments later, making it 33-20.
The third quarter ended with the Tigers on the move at the Lewis County 13-yard line.
Three plays into the final period, the Tigers' drive stalled and Medley came on to attempt a 42-yard field goal, but the kick was no good.
Lewis County took over and ran some valuable time off the clock before punting the ball back to the Tigers.
MCHS ran three plays and punted the ball away with 6:32 remaining in the contest.
The Panthers ticked off another three minutes before kicking back to the Tigers.
MCHS stayed in the game with a seven-play drive that was capped off by a Stacey TD burst from a yard out to make it 33-26.
Peterson followed with a two-point conversion run into the end zone, cutting the Lewis County lead to 33-28 with 1:48 remaining in the game.
Medley's onside kick was recovered by the Panthers and after a couple of MCHS timeouts, Graham sealed the deal with a first down run.
Peterson ran for 123 yards on 15 carries, while Stacey touted the rock 24 times for 99 yards.
The Tigers (3-5, 2-4) have a short week as they come back to Preston Hopkins Field for a televised My TV 30 Thursday Night Lights contest versus Page (6-2, 6-0).
"A game is a game, you have to compete, whoever you play" said Pitts. "These kids are resilient and will come back and battle their butts off and try to do the best they can for the Marshall County Tigers."