Tigers crush Cascade
On a night when they honored the 1984 State Championship football team, the Marshall County Tigers (6-1, 3-0 District) looked like potential title contenders on Friday, as they hammered the Cascade Champions 50-19 to the delight of a large Homecoming crowd.
Cascade (3-4, 0-3 District) defeated MCHS 41-34 last year, but the Tigers took the Champions behind the woodshed this time around and raced out to a 43-7 lead in the first half before cruising to the 31-point victory.
"I think it was easy to get our kids geared up for this game because of what Cascade did to them last year. We came out smoking and beat a real tough team tonight," said Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen.
Thanks to Friday's win, the Tigers remained in a tie for first place with Christ Presbyterian Academy in the District 12-AA standings and will take on the private school powerhouse on Oct. 17 after enjoying a bye this coming week.
Although they ran only 33 plays in the contest, Marshall County bombarded the Champions with a barrage of big plays and racked up 447 yards of total offense.
"I'm just really proud of the way we executed offensively. Our goal is to score every time we have the ball and we did that in the first half," said Osteen.
After throwing for a career high 417 yards against Franklin County in his previous outing, Tiger quarterback Ashton Posey torched another secondary on Friday and completed 13-of-15 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore wide out Jay Howard led MCHS' receiving corps by hauling in three passes for 101 yards and a TD to go along with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"Jay has become a big time playmaker as the season has gone on. I'm glad he's on our team," said Osteen.
Kacey Pleas and Tre Crutcher tallied four receptions apiece as well for 64 and 40 yards respectively with Pleas scoring once, while Darius McKenzie added a 66-yard TD catch.
Great Tiger stats
Bolstered by a couple of long touchdown runs from Bennielle Hill and Chris Walker, the Tigers churned out 176 yards rushing and averaged a gaudy 9.8 yards per carry.
Hill led the Tigers' ground attack by rushing for 91 yards and a TD on seven carries, while Walker tallied 70 yards and touchdown on five carries. Caleb Fields also toted the ball three times for 24 yards.
Despite running over twice as many plays (68) as Marshall County, Cascade finished with a modest 259 yards of total offense. The Champions tried to pound away at MCHS' defensive front and ran the ball 43 times, but averaged only 2.8 yards per carry en route to tallying 122 yards rushing.
The Tigers, however, did suffer a blow to their defensive front when senior defensive end Hunter Hobby was forced to leave the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.
Tailback Ivan Spencer was Cascade's offensive workhorse and toted the ball 25 times for 100 yards. Brady Parker also chipped in 12 yards on five carries, while quarterback Austin Hass scored twice on TD runs of one and two yards.
Hass had an inconsistent night throwing the ball and completed 13-of-25 passes for 137 yards. Spencer was Hass's primary target and had five receptions for 57 yards, while Zack Demonbreum snared four passes for 43 yards.
Linebacker Peyton Williams paced Marshall County's defense with 11 tackles and Payton Hood recorded nine tackles. Josh Franklin, Blake Darnell, Gunner Southerland, and Prentice Davis each notched six tackles as well, while Cale Shelton had five tackles. Walker and Blair Conger also tallied four tackles apiece for MCHS.
The Tigers wasted no time getting on the board and marched 48 yards to the end zone in five plays on their opening drive to take a 7- 0 lead.
Following a 37-yard kickoff return by Fields that set up MCHS in Champion territory, Walker rushed for a five-yard gain before Howard made a 34-yard catch and run to give the Tigers a first and goal situation at the Cascade 4. Marshall County then faced a 2nd and goal situation at the 14 due to two penalties, but Posey hit Pleas for an 11-yard gain before Walker burst up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run while Caleb Estes tacked on the extra point.
Cascade mounted an immediate response and put together a nine-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a Spencer three-yard TD run to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Howard quickly swung the momentum back to the Tigers' sideline, as he fielded the ensuing kickoff and raced 97 yards for a touchdown to give Marshall County a 14-7 advantage.
After Cascade went three and out on their next possession, Howard burned the Champions with another big play a few moments later when he caught a 53-yard TD pass from Posey to stretch MCHS' lead to 21-7 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
Marshall County then stopped the Champions on downs at the Tiger 36 before Hill broke loose for a 64-yard touchdown jaunt on the next play to make it 28-7 early in the second quarter.
Following a Cascade punt, Posey hit McKenzie over the middle before the big tight end rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown. Antonio Shelton then ran in the two-point conversion to extend MCHS' lead to 36-7.
Marshall County once again stopped the Champions on downs in Tiger territory before MCHS engineered a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive to open up a 43-7 lead with 2:10 left in the second quarter.
After picking up their initial first down of the series, Marshall County faced a 3rd and 18 situation at their own 35 due to a clipping penalty, but Crutcher made a 16-yard catch prior to hauling in a seven-yard pass from Posey on fourth down to move the chains. Posey then hooked up with Pleas for a 40-yard touchdown strike three plays later while Damien Richard tacked on the extra point.
To Cascade's credit, they didn't throw in the towel and put together two sustained drives in the second half that were punctuated by a couple of short TD runs from Hass to cut the deficit to 43-19 early in the fourth quarter.
Both teams came up empty on their next drives before Walker capped Marshall County's 50-19 victory by galloping 58 yards for a touchdown on a sweep play.