Tigers surge past Spring Hill
The Marshall County Tigers (3-2, 2-0 District) got the better of former coach Tom Turchetta on Friday night, as they defeated Turchetta's Spring Hill Raider squad 38-14 on Homecoming to notch their third straight win.
MCHS got off to a sluggish start and held just a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers righted the ship in the second period and outscored Spring Hill 17-0 in the stanza to open up a 24-6 advantage at halftime.
Marshall County then tacked on two more touchdowns in the third quarter to push their lead to 38-6 before cruising to their fourth consecutive victory over the Raiders (1-4, 0-2 District).
After coaching Marshall County for two seasons, Turchetta was unexpectedly relieved of his duties two months before the start of the 2012 campaign and was emotional about facing his former players.
"There was a lot of mixed emotions about coming back here. There are a lot of good people here that supported the program, but I was forced to leave because of one person," said Turchetta, who is in his first year with the Raiders. "I haven't had a chance to talk to the players yet. They were good kids and they didn't have anything to do with it. That time is over and I'm worried about Spring Hill now."
Despite getting off to a slow start, the Tigers racked up 320 yards of total offense, which included 123 yards rushing on 40 carries.
"We had all those festivities before the game and weren't sharp early, but we fought back and kept playing hard. Offensively we made enough plays to win the game and hopefully we'll continue to improve," said Marshall County coach Aaron Pitts. "There was a little pressure on me tonight because I wanted to win the game. I know (Turchetta) left under bad terms, but I wish him nothing but the best."
After enjoying big games against Page and Columbia Central the last two weeks, senior quarterback Austin Stacey turned in another strong performance for the Tigers and accounted for all five MCHS touchdowns. Stacey rushed for 42 yards and four TDs on 15 carries and completed 13-of-20 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception.
Tailback Bennielle Hill also added 74 yards rushing on 11 carries for Marshall County, while Dontay Baugh toted the ball 11 times for 23 yards.
Through the air
Wide out Chris Walker broke the century mark for the third straight week by hauling in six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Jay Howard notched four receptions for 24 yards as well, while Kacey Pleas snared two passes for 22 yards. Darius McKenzie also had one catch for five yards.
Placekicker Aaron Medley gave the Tigers a decided edge in the special teams department, as he boomed all seven kickoffs into the end zone, booted a 44-yard field goal, and converted all five extra point attempts while averaging 48 yards per punt.
Spring Hill finished with 303 yards of total offense, but tallied just 172 yards from scrimmage during the first three quarters of play while committing two turnovers.
The Raiders did most of their damage on the ground and churned out 251 yards rushing on 48 carries. Malcolm Nicholson paced Spring Hill's running game with 95 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while quarterback Tylin Oden toted the ball 14 times for 70 yards. Noah Williams also added 50 yards rushing and a TD on 12 carries.
Oden, though, was ineffective throwing the ball and completed just 8-of-24 passes for 52 yards while tossing two interceptions.
Linebacker Nick Jorgenson led the Tiger defense with 10 tackles, while Jay Murphy and D'Andre Brown each registered nine tackles with Brown recording two interceptions. Quante Alderson and Blake Darnell tallied six and five tackles for MCHS as well.
Aided by a sack from Peyton Williams, the Tigers forced a three and out by Spring Hill to start the game before Marshall County began their first drive at the Raider 29 thanks to a short punt by Drew Gorman.
The Tigers lost 17 yards on their second play from scrimmage due to a bad shotgun snap, but Stacey scrambled for 12 yards prior to completing a 29-yard pass to Walker to convert a 4th and 15 situation. Stacey then scored on a five-yard touchdown run on the next play to give MCHS a 7-0 lead.
Following an exchange of punts, Spring Hill put together an eight-play, 83-yard scoring drive that was capped by a one-yard touchdown plunge by Oden to narrow the gap to 7-6. Marshall County cornerback Payne Smith then stopped Oden short of the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt.
After the Tigers punted on their third offensive series, Brown picked off a short pass by Oden and raced into the end zone, but had the touchdown negated due to a clipping penalty while MCHS started their next possession at the Raider 19.
Although they lost eight yards on their next three plays, Marshall County still managed to get points out of the drive, as Medley hit a 44-yard field with 10:22 left in the second quarter to stretch the Tigers' lead to 10-6.
TDs keep coming
The Tigers then forced another three and out by Spring Hill before Stacey staked Marshall County to a 17-6 advantage when he scored on a 21-yard TD run to punctuate a seven-play, 73-yard drive.
After both teams exchanged punts, Brown set up the Tigers with excellent field position by picking off a pass by Oden and returning the ball 48 yards to the Raider 7. Stacey then barreled his way into the end zone from seven yards out on the next play to make it 24-7 with 1:20 left in the half.
The Tigers continued to distance themselves from Spring Hill at the start of the second half and engineered a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive to forge a 31-6 advantage with 8:40 left in the third quarter.
Baugh sandwiched runs of eight and five yards around a 12-yard scamper by Hill before Pleas caught an eight-yard pass to move the ball to the Spring Hill 45. After Hill broke loose for a 26-yard run, the Tigers lost three yards on their next two plays, but Walker hauled in a 13-yard pass to give Marshall County a 1st and goal situation at the nine. Stacey then scored on a three-yard TD run two plays later.
Tigers do it again
Spring Hill came up empty on their first two possessions of the second half before the Tigers extended their lead to 38-6 late in the third quarter by marching 67 yards to the end zone in six plays, highlighted by a 20-yard touchdown catch by Walker.
Medley converted the PAT the old-fashioned way, by dropkicking the ball through the uprights.
Marshall County's defense then made a goal line stand to keep the Raiders out of the end zone early in the fourth quarter, but Spring Hill's Anthony Rodriguez recovered a Tiger fumble a few moments later at the MCHS 19.
Oden then scored on a 19-yard touchdown jaunt on the next play before Demario Booker ran in the two-point conversion for the 38-14 final.