Tigers double up Giles County

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Marshall County High School honored their senior football players and cheerleaders before the start of the Tigers' game against Giles County on Friday night. Pictured are (front row, left to right) Chad Page, Damian Richard, Dontae Baugh, Blake Darnell, Antonio Shelton, Gunner Southerland, (back row) Yazmin Allen, Amber Crutcher, Tommy Cameron, Kacy Pleas, Chris Walker, Cale Shelton, Hunter Hobby, Grace Medley, and Jacey Perryman. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

After helping Giles County achieve dominance over Marshall County on the gridiron as an assistant coach, first-year MCHS head coach Thomas Osteen reversed that trend on Halloween, as the Tigers defeated the Bobcats 34-17 on Senior Night to snap a three-game losing streak to their longtime archrival.

Having lost eight of the last nine meetings against Giles County, MCHS (8-2, 4-1 District) appeared ready to overcome the specter of their past failures against the Bobcats and built a 14-3 lead in the first half.

After Giles County (4-6, 2-3 District) cut the deficit to 14-9 at halftime, the Tigers made a couple of critical defensive stands in the third quarter before outscoring the Bobcats 21-8 the rest of the way to pull away for the 17-point victory

"I definitely had some extra butterflies tonight," said Osteen. "They have a good ballclub and it's always great to coach in big ballgames like this. This is a really big win for us."

Thanks to Friday's win, Marshall County clinched sole possession of second place in the District standings and earned the top seed in Quadrant 3 of the Class 4A playoffs.

'A new era'

"I'm real proud of this bunch of kids. They've bought in to what we've preached and worked their guts out. They've gotten better each week in all phases of the game. These kids want to start a new era of Tiger football," said Osteen.

MCHS, however, will have little time to savor their win over Giles County and will face the Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs this coming Friday.

The Tigers' offense got stronger as the game wore on, as Marshall County piled up 366 yards from scrimmage overall, which included 243 in the second half alone.

Marshall County tailback Chris Walker breaks a tackle during a 12-yard run in the first quarter against Giles County.

Bolstered by a 91-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Chris Walker, MCHS finished with 222 yards rushing on 36 carries.

Walker's runs

Walker outshined Giles County cornerback and Ole Miss commitment Cameron Ordway by rushing for 185 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries while also catching two passes for 46 yards and a TD.

"This win meant a lot because we had only beaten them one time since I've been here. There was a lot of hype coming into this game and I'm glad we got it done," said Walker. "I'm not going to take anything away from Cameron because he's a great player, but I think I'm just as good as he is."

Jay Howard also picked up 25 yards on his lone carry, while D'Andre Brown added 15 yards on four carries.

Tiger quarterback Ashton Posey, meanwhile, completed 12-of-19 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. Walker also attempted two passes, completing one for 11 yards.

Top receiver

Marshall County defensive back Jay Howard(4)races down field after picking off a pass by Giles County quarterback Trevor Holder in the second quarter.

Howard was Marshall County's leading receiver and snared five passes for 56 yards. Tre Crutcher tallied three receptions for 35 yards as well, while Kacy Pleas had one catch for eight yards.

Although Giles County finished with a respectable 295 yards of total offense, the Bobcats scored on only two of their four trips inside the red zone and committed two costly turnovers that led to a pair of MCHS touchdowns.

After struggling to stop the run at times this season, the Tigers shored up that problem on Friday and limited Giles County to just 98 yards rushing on 34 carries.

Tailback Jordan Tucker paced the Bobcats' ground game with 70 yards on 10 carries, while R'Kell Reed chipped in 14 yards on four carries. Giles County quarterback Trevor Holder toted the ball 16 times but gained only seven yards after being sacked four times. Holder also completed just 14-of-30 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception.

Lucas Harrison was Holder's primary target and hauled in nine passes for 153 yards and a TD. With his performance against the Tigers, Holder eclipsed the 2,000-yard receiving mark for his career.

Defensive stars

Defensive end Payton Hood led the Tigers with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery, while Cale Shelton tallied nine tackles and a sack. Peyton Williams notched eight tackles as well, and Josh Franklin, Walker, and Antonio Shelton recorded seven tackles. Howard also tallied five tackles and an interception for MCHS, while Prentice Davis registered three tackles and a sack.

Marshall County was stopped on downs on their opening possession, but got the ball back a few moments later when Hood recovered a fumble by Tucker at the Giles County 47.

The Tigers cashed in on the Bobcat miscue and took a 7-0 lead 12 plays later when Walker burst up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown run while Caleb Estes tacked on the extra point.

Aided by a 32-yard kickoff return by Ordway and a Marshall County 15-yard facemask penalty, Giles County started their ensuing drive at the Tiger 29. The Bobcats then advanced to the 15 on consecutive runs by Reed and Holder, but picked up just six yards on their next three plays and settled for a 26-yard field goal by Griffin Birdsong to cut the deficit to 7-3 late in the first quarter.

Back to end zone

After Marshall County was forced to punt on their next three possessions, Howard set the Tigers up with excellent field position by picking off a Holder pass and returning it 52 yards to the Bobcat 13. Giles County was also called for a facemask on the play, which moved the ball to the seven-yard line.

Walker then burrowed into the end zone from a yard out three plays later to make it 14-3 with 3:29 left in the second quarter.

The Bobcats finally reached the end zone on their next possession to narrow the gap to 14-9 when Holder hooked up with Harrison for a 34-yard touchdown strike with 1:26 left in the half. Giles County failed on the two-point conversion attempt to keep the deficit at five going into the break.

In the third quarter, the Bobcats had a chance to take the lead after advancing from their own 37 to the Tiger 19 on four straight runs. After losing seven yards on first down due to a bad snap, Giles County picked up 14 yards on their next two plays to set up a 4th and 3 situation. The Bobcats, though, came away empty handed, as Shelton and Davis stopped Holder a yard short of the 1st down marker on a designed quarterback run.

Long drive

Following a MCHS punt, the Bobcats lost the ball on downs again at the Tiger 43 before Marshall County put together a 10-play, 57-yard scoring drive that was punctuated by a Walker seven-yard TD run to stretch their lead to 21-9 late in the third quarter.

After stopping Giles County on downs again in the red zone with the help of a 4th down sack by Brown, the Tigers were penalized five yards for an illegal substitution. Walker quickly got Marshall County out of the shadow of their own goal line by racing 91-yards for a touchdown on the next play to give MCHS a 28-9 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Holder scored on a four-yard TD run on the Bobcats ensuing possession before running in the two-point conversion to trim the deficit to 28-17, but the Tigers pushed their lead to 34-17 when Walker caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Posey with 5:02 left.

That proved to be all the points MCHS would need, as the Tigers stopped Giles County on downs one final time in Marshall County territory before running out the clock.

After Giles County (4-6, 2-3 District) cut the deficit to 14-9 at halftime, the Tigers made a couple of critical defensive stands in the third quarter before outscoring the Bobcats 21-8 the rest of the way to pull away for the 17-point victory.