Tigers rally past Page
The Marshall County Tigers (4-5, 3-4 District) ended up shining when the spotlight was put on them, as they defeated archrival Page 28-27 at Preston Hopkins Field in the My TV 30 Thursday Night Lights Game of the Week to snap a three-game losing streak against the Patriots.
Page (6-3, 6-1 District) came into Thursday's contest riding a six-game winning streak and held a 14-0 lead at halftime before taking a 27-14 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers, however, conjured up some late game magic and cut the deficit to 27-21 on an 80-yard touchdown catch by senior Kevin Peterson prior to taking a 28-27 lead with 6:08 left thanks to a 16-yard touchdown jaunt by quarterback Austin Stacey.
MCHS then forced the Patriots to punt on their next possession before running out the clock to hold on for the dramatic one-point victory.
With Thursday's victory, Marshall County moved into a tie for fifth place in the District 12-AA standings with Lewis County and kept themselves in contention for an at large bid in the playoffs.
"We kept fighting and kept playing hard," said MCHS coach Aaron Pitts. "We fell behind by 14 points early, but the kids never gave up and continued to battle. These types of games are good for our exposure and the guys were excited to be on television. They came out real emotional because they don't want the seniors to miss the playoffs."
Bolstered by their second half offensive surge, the Tigers racked up 390 yards from scrimmage overall, which included 163 yards rushing on 47 carries against Page's rugged defensive front.
Peterson had an impact in multiple phases of the game, as he caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries, and returned a kickoff 93 yards for a TD in the third quarter en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the contest.
"I just want to give thanks to my coaches and teammates. This was a big win for us. The crowd was hyped up and we were ready to play," said Peterson. "I felt like we had to get it done tonight because this is our last shot. I talked to the other seniors and told them that we had to have this win."
Stacey also made several big plays for the Tigers and completed 14-of-25 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns while toting the ball 25 times for 83 yards and a score.
Malik Crawford hauled in five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown as well to go along with 19 yards rushing on four carries, while Chris Walker and Rhye Stephens each had one catch for nine and five yards respectively.
Page finished with 339 yards of total offense, but committed three turnovers and had two touchdowns called back due to penalties.. Although the Patriots rushed for 145 yards and averaged a respectable 4.7 yards per carry, Page lost three fumbles.
Tailback Damian Lockridge paced the Patriots rushing attack with 70 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to go along with four catches for 58 yards.
Page quarterback Zak Mizell toted the pigskin 14 times as well for 56 yards and a TD, while completing 16-of-31 passes for 194 yards and an interception.
Patriot wide outs Donte Desalle, Taylor Wallace, and Keith Jones also hauled in three passes apiece for 62, 36, and nine yards respectively.
With fellow middle linebacker Jalen Jones forced to leave the game in the first half due to a leg injury, senior O'Shea Tears stepped up and played perhaps the best game of his MCHS career, as he recorded a season high 14 tackles, intercepted a pass, and recovered a fumble.
Jay Murphy followed Tears with eight tackles, and Quantae Alderson and Husain Jefferson each notched six tackles. Rekeem Alexander, Antonio Shelton and Barry Mayes also tallied five tackles apiece with Shelton recovering a fumble and recording a sack, while Brandon Outzen added three tackles and a sack.
Marshall County got off to an ominous start, as Lockridge scooped up a fumble by Stacey on the first series of the game and raced 40 yards to the end zone while Mason Foley tacked on the extra point to give Page a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, the Tigers picked up a couple of first downs on their third possession, but saw the drive stall out near midfield.
Facing a 4th and 9 situation, Marshall County opted to punt, but Page defensive end Joe Robertson blocked the kick and Zac Weiland had the ball fall into his arms before rumbling 21 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
After both teams came up empty on their final five possessions of the first half, the Tigers caught a break early in the third quarter when Tears recovered a fumble by Desalle at the MCHS 45.
Crawford then caught a short pass from Stacey on the next play and sprinted 55 yards for a TD before Aaron Medley converted the extra point to trim the deficit to 14-7.
The Patriots mounted an immediate response and put together a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown plunge by Lockridge to open up a 20-7 advantage with 7:58 left in the third quarter.
Foley then missed the extra point to keep the deficit at 13 before Peterson reenergized the Tiger sideline by returning the ensuing kickoff 93 yards down the left sideline for a TD to narrow the gap to 20-14.
After both teams went three and out on their next offensive series, Booker Leach returned MCHS' punt 35 yards to set up Page at the Tiger 41.
The Patriots then advanced to the MCHS 10 thanks to an 11-yard run by Lockridge and a defensive holding penalty on the Tigers before Mizell scored on a seven-yard touchdown jaunt to push Page's lead to 27-14 with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
Following a three and out by Marshall County, the Patriots marched from their own 32 to the Tiger 4 in nine plays. MCHS's defense, though bowed it's neck and managed to keep Page out of the end zone with the help of a sack by Shelton and an illegal motion penalty on Page, before Foley missed a 24-yard field goal.
Marshall County quickly sliced the deficit to 27-21 when Stacey hit Peterson deep downfield for an 80-yard touchdown strike on the next snap.
The Tigers then forced Page to punt before marching 55 yards to pay dirt in nine plays to seize a 28-27 lead with 6:08 left in the fourth quarter.
After advancing to the Patriot 14 on six runs and a six-yard catch by Peterson, Marshall County lost two yards on their next two plays but Stacey burst up the middle for 16-yard TD run on a 3rd and 12 quarterback scramble while Medley hit the go ahead extra point.
On their final possession, Page had a 53-yard touchdown catch by Desalle called back due to an illegal man downfield penalty before eventually punting the ball away.
The Tigers then burned the final 4:36 off the clock by picking up four first downs on 10 straight running plays to claim the hard fought victory.