CPA proves too tough for Tigers
The Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions are once again the kings of the District 12-AA jungle, as the defending conference champs whipped the Marshall County Tigers 42-14 in Nashville on Friday night to break a tie for first place in the league standings with MCHS.
Similar to many of their games this season, CPA (9-0, 4-0) put down the hammer early and built a 35-7 lead in the first half. The Lions then tacked on another touchdown in the third quarter to forge a 42-7 advantage before coasting to the 28-point victory.
"We had to play a perfect game tonight and we didn't do that. I think we got shell shocked in the second quarter and our body language got down for the first time this season," said Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen. "We came out and fought hard in the second half and I'm proud of them for that. CPA could play with any team in the state so you've got to keep everything in perspective."
After averaging nearly 45 points per game in their first seven contests this season, the Tigers (6-2, 3-1 District) saw their high flying offense fizzle out on the Lions' soggy home turf and finished with a season low 228 yards from scrimmage overall against CPA's stingy defense while committing one turnover.
The Lions completely shutdown Marshall County's usually potent ground attack and limited the Tigers to a mere 35 yards rushing on 31 carries.
"CPA runs a college defense scheme wise. We haven't seen a defense as talented as them or a defense that's as complicated as the one they run," said Osteen.
MCHS tailback Chris Walker came into Friday's contest averaging a gaudy 13.7 yards per carry, but mustered just 31 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against the Lions. Walker, however, did complete all three of his halfback attempts for 89 yards and a TD.
Tiger quarterback Ashton Posey completed 13-of-21 passes, but finished with only 82 yards through the air. Backup quarterback Tanner Clark also connected on 3-of-4 passes for 22 yards.
Howard on target
Sophomore wide out Jay Howard was the biggest bright spot of the night for Marshall County and hauled in eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Kacy Pleas also tallied five receptions for 22 yards, while Bennielle Hill had two catches for eight yards. Darius McKenzie and Antonio Shelton each snared one pass for 15 and seven yards respectively as well.
CPA, meanwhile, ran Marshall County ragged with their rapid fire offense and racked up 344 yards from scrimmage overall, which included 283 yards in the first half alone.
With senior defensive end Hunter Hobby likely out for the season because of a broken leg and sophomore defensive tackle Blair Conger unable play due to a back ailment, Marshall County was simply overpowered in the trenches by the Lions' big, physical offensive line, as CPA rushed for 225 yards on 34 carries.
Tailback Wallace Barrett led CPA's ground attack by rushing for 76 yards on 10 carries. Quarterback Zack Weatherly also tallied 71 yards and a touchdown on five carries, while Chip Omer toted the ball 10 times for 65 yards and a TD. Houston Nichols added a pair of short touchdown runs for the Lions as well.
Weatherly complemented CPA's running game by completing 10-of-14 passes for 114 yards and a TD. Joseph Richard hauled in four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown to pace the Lions' receiving corps, while J.R. Osborn had four catches for 36 yards and a score.
Cale Shelton led Marshall County's defense with 14 tackles. Walker also recorded 12 tackles and a sack, while Blake Darnell and Gunner Southerland notched seven tackles apiece. Payton Hood and Peyton Williams each registered six tackles for the Tigers as well.
CPA came out swinging at the start of the game and put together a seven-play, 63-yard touchdown drive on their opening series that was capped by an Omer 17-yard touchdown run to grab an early 7-0 lead.
The Tigers quickly counterpunched and marched 80 yards to pay dirt in 11 plays on their ensuing possession to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
After advancing to their own 46 with the help of a 10-yard run by Howard and a facemask penalty, the Tigers picked up only six yards on their next three plays to bring up a 4th and 4 situation, but Howard caught a 23-yard pass from Walker to move the ball down to the Lion 25. Walker then ripped off consecutive runs of 9 and 10 yards before scoring on a six-yard touchdown jaunt while Caleb Estes tacked on the extra point.
Lions take over
CPA's special teams quickly swung the momentum back to their favor, as Osborn returned a short kickoff by the Tigers 31 yards to the MCHS 34. The Lions capitalized on the good field position and seized a 14-7 advantage six plays later when Nichols scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge.
Following a Marshall County punt, Weatherly stretched CPA's lead to 21-7 late in the first quarter by racing 73 yards down the left sideline on a read option play.
The Lions then forced a three and out by the Tigers before opening up a 28-7 early in the second quarter when Nichols burrowed into the end zone from two yards out to punctuate a seven-play, 46-yard drive.
Things quickly got worse for MCHS, as Richard recovered a fumble by McKenzie to set CPA up at the Marshall 43. Walker then sacked Weatherly for an eight-yard loss, but Weatherly hooked up with Richard for a 41-yard completion on the next play before Osborne caught a shovel pass from Weatherly and scampered into the end zone from 10 yards out to make it 35-7.
After a 60-yard run by Pleas was called back because of a holding penalty, the Tigers were forced to punt but they finally stiffened defensively and stopped the Lions on downs at the MCHS 33.
Marshall County then went three and out on their next possession before Osborne came up short on a 63-yard field goal attempt in the waning seconds of the first half.
The Tigers had their opening drive of the second half sabotaged by an illegal motion penalty and lost the ball on downs at their own 48. CPA once again cashed in on the favorable field position and pushed their lead to 35-7 with 6:56 left in the third quarter on a six-yard TD catch by Richard.
Both teams came up empty on their next possession before Walker hit Howard for a 58-yard touchdown strike midway through the fourth quarter for the 42-14 final.