Tigers outgun Raiders
First-year head coach Thomas Osteen got the better of one of his predecessors at Marshall County High School on Friday night when the Tigers (4-1, 2-0 District) went on the road and defeated a previously unbeaten Spring Hill Raider squad 36-13 that is led by former MCHS coach Tom Turchetta.
Spring Hill (4-1, 1-1 District) jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, but the Tigers eventually settled down and notched touchdowns on two straight drives to take a 14-7 advantage into the break.
Marshall County then began to distance themselves from the Raiders in the second half and outscored Spring Hill 22-6 over the final two quarters to pull away for the 23-point victory.
"Playing football is playing football, but anytime you face someone that has a history at the school you're at you want to put up a good showing," said Osteen. "Coach Turchetta is doing a great job there, but we did feel a little disrespected by being their Homecoming opponent."
With Friday's triumph, the Tigers recorded their fifth straight win over the Raiders and moved into a tie for first place in the District 12-AA standings with defending champ Christ Presbyterian Academy.
In his second season as the Raiders head coach, Turchetta believes Spring Hill's program is heading in the right direction and holds no ill will towards the MCHS players and coaching staff after being dismissed as Marshall County's coach two months before the start of the 2012 campaign.
"Everything that's happened to these kids is uncharted waters because none of the seniors on the team has ever won this many games before this year," said Turchetta. "Those kids at Marshall County and the current coaches have nothing to do with what happened there. That all happened because of one person."
The Tigers ran only 40 plays in the contest, but made the most of their opportunities and rolled up 414 yards of total offense while scoring touchdowns on five of their eight possessions.
Aided by an 80-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Chris Walker, Marshall County finished with 181 yards rushing on 25 carries. Walker broke the century mark for the fourth time this season and rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while D'Andre Brown toted the ball eight times for 41 yards to go along with two catches for 33 yards. Bennielle Hill also rushed for 34 yards and a TD on five carries for the Tigers.
With Spring Hill stacking the box to stop Marshall County's running game, Tiger quarterback Ashton Posey took advantage of big play opportunities through the air, as he completed 9-of-14 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
Kasey Pleas was Posey's primary target and hauled in four passes for a career high 108 yards and a touchdown while Jay Howard added a 61-yard TD reception. Walker and Tre Crutcher each notched one catch as well for 20 and 11 yards respectively with Walker scoring a touchdown.
Although they bent on several occasions, the Tiger defense seldom broke. The Raiders finished with a respectable 297 yards of total offense, but came away with points on only two-of-six trips inside the red zone while committing two turnovers.
Spring Hill relied heavily on their ground attack to play keep away from the Tigers, as they churned out 186 yards on 43 carries. Tailback Malcolm Nicholson shouldered much of the load for the Raiders and rushed for a game high 122 yards on 24 carries while catching three passes for 17 yards and a TD. Despite being sacked three times, Spring Hill quarterback Tylin Oden tallied 45 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Oden was also effective throwing off of play action and completed 11-of-17 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Blake Lovell saw time at quarterback as well for the Raiders, but failed to complete either of his two passes and tossed one interception.
Chris Walker led Marshall County's defense with 11 tackles, while Gunner Southerland, Josh Franklin, and Cale Shelton notched 10 tackles apiece with Shelton recording a sack. Antonio Shelton also registered nine tackles, and Payton Hood and Blake Darnell both had eight tackles with Hood tallying a sack. Bennielle Hill recorded a sack, Steven Dangerfield recovered a fumble, and Kamron Liggett had an interception for the Tigers as well.
Both teams were plauged by penalties in the contest, as Marshall County was flagged 11 times for 122 yards while the Raiders were penalized eight times for 50 yards.
Raiders roll early
Spring Hill got off to a fast start and put together an eight-play, 47-yard scoring drive in their opening possession that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown catch by Nicholson to take a 7-0 lead.
The Raiders had a chance to put some early pressure on the Tigers when they recovered a fumble at the MCHS 34 on the kickoff after the ball bounced off a Marshall County up back. Spring Hill then advanced down to the nine-yard line on three straight runs, but saw that opportunity go by the wayside when Nicholson fumbled the handoff from Oden and Dangerfield pounced on the pigskin at the five.
The Tigers quickly escaped the shadow of their own end zone and moved to their own 38 with the help of an 11-yard reception by Crutcher and a Hill 11-yard run before Posey hooked up with Howard for a 61-yard touchdown strike. Caleb Estes converted the extra point to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:12 left in the first quarter.
Tigers take lead
After Marshall County forced the Raiders to punt on their next offensive series, Shelton blocked the kick to set up the Tigers at the Spring Hill 31.
The Tigers cashed in on the favorable field position, as Walker scored on a 20-yard touchdown reception five plays later to give MCHS a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter after wrestling the ball away from a Raider defensive back Daniel Johnson.
Both teams lost the ball on downs on their next possession before the Raiders drove to the Tiger 13 in the waning moments of the second quarter thanks to a 23-yard run by Nicholson and a Zack Frye 15-yard catch. Spring Hill, however, came away empty handed, as Shelton sacked Oden for a 12-yard loss on the final play of the half.
The Tigers began to assert themselves at the start of the second half and marched 69 yards to pay dirt in seven plays to open up a 21-7 advantage. After Marshall County picked up 24 yards on five straight runs, Posey found Pleas for a 31-yard completion before Hill raced around the left end for a 14-yard touchdown jaunt.
Although the Raiders advanced down to the MCHS 21 on their next possession with the aid of three Tiger penalties, they once again bogged down in the red zone and picked up only two yards on their next three plays before placekicker Ehtan Hultgren missed a 36-yard field goal.
Ahead to stay
Marshall County continued to carve up Spring Hill's defense on their ensuing drive, as they engineered a five-play, 80-yard drive that was punctuated by a Pleas 22-yard TD catch. Antonio Shelton then ran in the two-point conversion to push the Tigers' lead to 29-7 with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders trimmed the deficit to 29-13 midway through the fourth quarter on a 12-yard touchdown scamper by Oden, but Walker put the game away a few moments later when he broke loose for an 80-yard TD run to make it 36-13.
The Tigers then stopped Spring Hill on downs at the MCHS 12 before chewing the final 3:11 off the clock by picking up two first downs on five straight runs.