Mustangs double up Tigers

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Marshall County safety Bennielle Hill puts a big hit on Lipscomb Academy running back Carson Meador during a 10-yard run in the second quarter. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Marshall County Tigers wrapped up their preseason schedule on Friday night when they dropped a 14-7 decision to the Lipscomb Academy Mustangs in the Pigskin Preview at Preston Hopkins Field.

Playing three quarters instead of the usual two, the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie early in the second period before the Mustangs put together a lengthy touchdown drive to seize a 14-7 lead.

After Marshall County came up empty on their ensuing offensive series, Lipscomb Academy engineered another time consuming drive to run out the clock in the first half before both teams cleared their benches in a scoreless third quarter.

Wearying task

Although the Tigers did not allow the Mustangs to stampede up and down the field, Lipscomb Academy methodically wore down MCHS' defense and racked up 216 yards of total offense, which included 141 yards rushing on 32 carries.

"It was good to play a physical football team before the start of the season. We made them run a lot of plays and didn't give up any big plays defensively," said first-year Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen. "Lipscomb is a quality program that prides itself on execution and doesn't make many mistakes. We had some chances to get off the field, but just didn't do it."

Running back Hunter Bradford led the Mustangs ground attack by rushing for 37 yards on seven carries, while Thomas Story added 19 yards and a touchdown on two attempts. Griffin Smiley toted the ball twice for 18 yards as well and Grant Mitchell added a two-yard touchdown run.

On target

Lipscomb Academy quarterback Sy Taylor kept the Tigers off balance by completing 8-of-10 passes for 64 yards. Backup signal caller John Merritt also completed 1-of-3 passes for 11 yards and toted the ball four times for 16 yards.

Hampton Francis and Clayton Pickens both snared two passes for 24 and 15 yards respectively to pace the Mustangs' receiving corps.

Safety Bennielle Hill registered seven tackles to lead Marshall County's defense and Josh Franklin notched six tackles. Blake Darnell and Payton Hood tallied five tackles apiece for MCHS as well, while Nathan Fuller recovered a fumble.

With Lipscomb Academy playing keep away for much of the evening, the Tigers saw their first team offense have just two possessions and finished with only 82 yards from scrimmage overall.

Back to work

Despite sitting out the last two weeks due to an injury, Marshall County quarterback Ashton Posey didn't show many signs of rust and completed 5-of-8 passes for 44 yards. Reserve quarterback Tanner Clark attempted just two passes, completing one for five yards.

Marshall County's Kamron Liggett (24) and Nathan Fuller (51) scramble after a fumble by Lipscomb Academy's Holden Montgomery in the third quarter.

Tiger wide out Kasey Pleas had a team high two receptions for 10 yards, while Darius McKenzie, D'Andre Brown, Caleb Fields, and Jay Howard each caught one pass for 17, 13, five, and four yards respectively.

Marshall County had a tough time moving the ball on the ground against the Mustangs and mustered only 33 yards rushing on 14 carries. Hill was the Tigers leading rusher with 20 yards and a touchdown on three carries, while Fields also toted the pigskin three times for 19 yards.

Lipscomb Academy got their offense cranked up early and marched 70 yards to pay dirt on their opening possession in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Mustangs take off

The Mustangs advanced to the MCHS 41 with the help of 11 and 13 yard receptions by Francis, before Bradford ripped off a 13 yard run to move the ball down to the 28. Marshall County limited Lipscomb Academy to six yards on the next two plays, but jumped off sides on 3rd and 4 to give the Mustangs a fresh set of downs. After Taylor hooked up with Hunter Hayes for a 13-yard completion to convert a 4th and nine situation, Mitchell bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out three plays later while Chad Newby tacked on the extra point.

The Tigers quickly counterpunched and mounted a 14-play, 70-yard drive of their own to tie the contest at 7-7 with 11:53 left in the second quarter. Posey found McKenzie for a 17-yard gain to convert a 3rd and 12 situation before completing an 11-yard pass to Pleas on 3rd and 7 to move the ball down to the LA 41. After Brown picked up 13 yards on a screen pass to convert a 3rd and 9 situation, the Tigers advanced to the 14 thanks to a Hill nine-yard run and a four-yard catch by Howard. Hill then scored on a nine-yard run three plays later before Damian Richard made the extra point.

Handling pressure

"A good gauge of a quarterback is how he performs under pressure. Ashton made two or three big throws to pick up first downs on that first drive," said Osteen. "I was really pleased with that first drive. We were able to drive the ball the length of the field against a pretty good defense."

The Mustangs, however, continued to relentlessly move the ball down the field on their second possession and grabbed a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter when Story rumbled into the end zone from 13 yards out to cap an 11-play, 70-yard drive.

After Marshall County then went three and out on their ensuing drive, Lipscomb Academy picked up three first downs to chew the final 5:40 of the first half off the clock.

In the third quarter, the Mustangs stopped MCHS on downs near midfield, but lost a fumble at the Tiger 15 after driving deep into Marshall County territory.

Lipscomb Academy regained possession on the next play when Cory Mathers recovered a MCHS fumble at the seven-yard line before running out the clock to preserve the win.