Tigers torch Columbia Central

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Marshall County tailback D'Andre Brown (17) breaks the tackle attempt of Columbia's Jay Pillow (21) while scoring on a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Marshall County Tigers (3-1) put on a show for middle Tennessee high school football fans when they crushed a previously undefeated Columbia Central squad 67-35 on the road in the My TV 30 Friday Night Rivals Game of the Week to claim their second straight victory over the Lions.

Despite committing three turnovers in the first half, the Tigers built a 28-14 lead through the first two quarters of play before opening up a 42-21 advantage midway through the third period.

Taking charge

The Lions (3-1) closed the gap to 42-28 late in the third quarter, but Marshall County kicked in the afterburners down the stretch and outscored Columbia 25-7 in the fourth period to pull away for the 32-point win.

"I think the kids handled being on TV real well. They're a loose group. I almost felt sick at halftime because of the turnovers, but we came out and played hard in the second half. It's a great win for Lewisburg and Marshall County High School," said MCHS coach Thomas Osteen.

After averaging nearly 40 points per game in their first three contests, the Tigers shredded another defense on Friday and rolled up 590 yards of total offense, which included 363 yards rushing on 46 carries.

One-two punch

Chris Walker and D'Andre Brown provided Marshall County with a potent one-two punch at tailback, as Walker rushed for a career high 200 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries while Brown toted the ball 13 times as well for 108 yards and three touchdowns to go along with four catches for 45 yards.

Caleb Fields also added 24 yards on seven carries and quarterback Ashton Posey rushed for 15 yards and a TD on nine carries.

Posey complemented the Tigers' ground attack by completing 16-of-20 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown while tossing one interception.

Pass-grabber

Marshall County wide out Jay Howard (4) evades a pair of Columbia defenders during a 19-yard catch and run in the second quarter.

Sophomore wide out Jay Howard was Posey's primary target and broke the century mark for the second straight game by hauling in nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Darius McKenzie tallied two receptions for 20 yards as well, while Tre Crutcher had one catch for 29 yards.

"We've got a bunch of talented players that we can give the ball too and it's real fun as a coach because teams can't focus on one guy," said Osteen. "It's fun to watch and I don't think we're close to reaching our ceiling yet."

Lions stats

Columbia rushed for 201 yards and averaged five yards per carry, but finished with only 289 yards of total offense overall and committed four turnovers.

Tailback Mario Williams was the Lions'* main offensive weapon and rushed for 129 yards and three TDs. Dentrell Goff also added 40 yards rushing on eight carries to go along with an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, while Evari Wisener toted the ball five times for 26 yards.

Quarterback Orrin Delk was unable to provide the Lions with a consistent threat through the air, as he completed 5-of-10 passes for 88 yards and threw two interceptions. Jackson Harris paced Columbia's receiving corps with four catches for 74 yards, while Williams had one reception for 14 yards.

Marshall County cornerback Josh Franklin (21) stops Columbia tailback Mario Williams (31) for a one-yard gain in the first quarter.

Cale Shelton racked up 10 tackles to lead Marshall County defensively, while Kamron Liggett, Josh Franklin, Hunter Hobby, and Walker each notched eight tackles with Franklin recording an interception and Hobby registering a sack. Kacey Pleas tallied seven tackles and recovered a fumble for the Tigers as well.

Although they gave up Goff's long kickoff return, the Tigers had several positives in the special teams department, as they recovered two onside kicks, while kickers Caleb Estes and Damien Richard combined to make all eight extra point attempts with Estes also converting a 23-yard field goal.

Early lead

Marshall County caught an early break when Wisener fumbled the handoff from Delk on the first play of the game before Lyttle pounced on the pigskin to give MCHS possession at the Lion 39.

The Tigers cashed in on the favorable field possession, as Walker scored on a two-yard touchdown run four plays later to give Marshall County a 7-0 lead.

Following a Columbia punt, the turnover bug bit MCHS when Eriq Hampton jarred the ball loose from Posey on a sack and Joseph Symlar recovered the fumble to set up Columbia at the Tiger 21.

The Lions reached the end zone seven plays later, as Williams burrowed his way into the end zone from three yards out while Cameron Baker tacked on the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.

Breaking a tie

Walker quickly broke the stalemate on Marshall County's ensuing possession by racing 60 yards for a touchdown to put MCHS back up 14-7 with 3:42 left in the first quarter.

Darnell then picked off a Delk pass in the end zone to snuff out a Lion scoring threat before Marshall County put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 19-yard touchdown catch by Howard to open up a 21-7 advantage early in the second period.

On the kickoff, The Tigers then caught the Lions off guard, as Darnell recovered an onsides kick at the Columbia 45. MCHS converted the successful special teams gamble into points, as Brown scored on a four-yard TD run two plays later to make it 28-7 after Walker scampered for 41 yards a few moments earlier.

Columbia lost the ball on downs at the Tiger 34 on their next offensive series, but Jay Pillow intercepted a Posey pass and returned it to the Marshall County 22. The Lions once again took advantage of the short field, as Williams scampered into the end zone from six yards out to cut the deficit to 28-14 with 3:47 left in the second quarter.

Second-half start

Although Marshall County missed a chance to pad their lead late in the first half when Posey fumbled the ball into Columbia's end zone in the closing seconds of the stanza, the Tigers came out strong at the start of the third quarter and engineered a seven-play, 65-yard drive, highlighted by a Walker 27-yard TD jaunt, to stretch their lead to 35-14.

The Lions narrowed the gap to 35-21 on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Delk, but Fields returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Columbia 35 before Posey scored on a one-yard TD dive to stake MCHS to a 42-21 advantage.

After the Lions whittled the deficit to 42-28 thanks to a 22-yard touchdown jaunt by Williams, the Tigers stretched their lead to 49-28 early in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard TD run by Walker.

Marshall County defensive coordinator J.T. Hopkins (standing, second from the left) talks to the Tiger defense before the start of the second quarter.

Big play

Pleas made a big defensive play a few moments later when he ripped the ball from Williams hands to give Marshall County possession at the Columbia 44 before Brown broke loose for a 25-yard touchdown run to put MCHS up 56-28.

Goff returned the kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to close the gap to 56-35, but the Tigers marched 55 yards to pay dirt in nine plays on their next possession, which was capped by a Brown one-yard TD run. On the extra point attempt, holder Tanner Clark mishandled the snap before rolling out and finding Pleas in the end zone to stretch Marshall County's lead to 64-35 with 5:23 left.

After Franklin recovered another onside kick attempt by the Tigers at the Lion 45, Estes booted a 23-yard field goal to cap Marshall County's 67-35 triumph.