Tiger alumni hold off Giles County
A team of former Marshall County Tiger football players earned bragging rights over their counterparts from Giles County when they pulled out a hard fought 16-12 win over the Bobcats on Saturday night at Preston Hopkins Field in a game sponsored by Alumni Football USA.
Marshall County held an 8-6 lead at the end of the first half before tacking on a touchdown and a two-point conversion late in the third quarter to open up a 16-6 advantage.
Giles County scored a touchdown with 4:23 left to whittle the deficit to 16-12, but the Tigers ran out the clock on their ensuing possession with the help of some tough running from tailback Rashad Biggers to claim the four-point victory.
Hard yet easy
"This was the hardest and the easiest coaching I've ever done. All the guys couldn't be at practice, but they all knew how to play football," said Marshall County head coach John Barron. "They're a great group of young men. They're spread out over 20 years, but they all came together and gelled."
The Tigers finished with only 149 yards of total offense, but scored touchdowns on two out of their three trips inside the red zone. Marshall County did most of their damage on the ground and churned out 144 yards rushing while averaging a healthy 5.8 yards per carry.
Biggers led the Tigers' ground attack by rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, which included 40 yards on the last drive of the game, en route to earning Offensive MVP honors for Marshall County.
'Great' to be back
"It felt great to be out there again. I didn't think I'd ever get to do this again. It was nice to play with guys like Tim Cannon because he was one of my heroes growing up," said Biggers, who graduated from MCHS in 2000 and played tailback at Columbia University. "At the end of the game I wanted the ball. I wanted to close it out and run the four minute offense."
Quarterback Shannon Crutcher also added 30 yards on four carries and Trevor Carter gained 28 yards on his lone rushing attempt. Broderick Tears tallied 22 yards on three carries as well, while J.J. McCord and Eric Michael both chipped in three yards rushing with Michael taking home the team's Leadership Award.
The Tigers, meanwhile, rotated four quarterbacks throughout the game and completed just 1-of-9 passes overall for five yards. Carter was the lone Marshall County signal caller to complete a throw and hooked up with Shane Chapman for a short touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Giles County actually out-gained the Tigers and mustered just 190 yards of total offense, but scored on just one-of-three trips inside the red zone. Hindered by two sacks and a couple of botched punt attempts, the Bobcats finished with only 107 yards rushing on 34 carries.
Tailback Brandon Houston was Giles County's most effective offensive weapon and rushed for 114 yards on 12 carries. Peyton Oliver also added 14 yards and a touchdown on two carries, while Charles Howard toted the ball four times for eight yards.
Sam Christian started the game at quarterback for the Bobcats and completed just 2-of-10 passes for 25 yards while tossing one interception. Oliver then replaced Christian at quarterback and directed Giles County's final scoring drive by completing 3-of-7 passes for 58 yards. Cory Houston, Raheem Holt, and Chad Hopwood each caught one pass for 25, 22, and 21 yards respectively.
Making it up
David Tadajewski earned Defensive MVP for the Tigers by recording a team high seven tackles.
"When I was a senior we went 1-9 so it was great to make up for that," said Tadajewski. "I felt like I let Marshall County down back then. It's a blessing to win this award."
A 1989 graduate of MCHS, Tim Cannon took home the Oldest Player Award for the Tigers, but showed that age is just a number and followed Tadajewski with six tackles and a sack.
Brent Smith and Gabe Cross notched five tackles apiece as well and Kevin Peterson, Shon Hall, and Daniel Warf each had four tackles. Ben Fender and Billy Church also registered three tackles each, while Jared Robinson, Chris Booker, Broderick Tears, Tyler Clift, Rodney Mealer, and Major Tripp all had two tackles with Mealer recording an interception. Crutcher, Kris Blalock (one sack), Brandon Harden, Eric Michael, Quentin Campbell, Steven Evans, Scotty Hargrove, Jamie Wright, Dutch Church, Biggers, J.J. McCord, Wes Barron , and Ross Brown rounded out the rest of the defensive contributors for Marshall County with one tackle apiece.
Tripp earned Special Teams MVP for the Tigers by averaging 30 yards on his two punt attempts.
Marshall County lost a fumble at the Bobcat 33 on their opening possession before Giles County advanced to the Tiger 32 on their first offensive series. The Bobcat drive stalled there, as Blalock sacked Christian for a 10-yard loss on first down before Giles County was forced to punt after picking up four yards on their next two plays.
Disaster then struck for Giles County on the punt attempt, as the snap sailed over kicker Jon Stafford's head before Fender tackled Stafford for a 29-yard loss at the Bobcat 33.
The Tigers cashed in on the good field position and reached pay dirt five plays later to take an 8-0 lead early in the second quarter. After ripping runs of 9 and six yards, Crutcher scrambled for 16 yards to give Marshall County a 1st and goal situation at the two. Biggers then plowed into the end zone on the next play before Tadajewski hauled in the two-point conversion pass from Carter.
Giles County quickly counterpunched and cut the deficit to 8-6 when Nieco Walker raced 95 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. Cannon and Harden then stopped Brandon Houston short of the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt.
Following a Marshall County punt, the Bobcats advanced to the Tiger 15 on their next offensive series, but Giles County ended up losing the ball on downs after Cannon sacked Christian for a 13-yard loss.
Marshall County went three and out on their next possession before the Bobcats threatened again and moved the ball down to the Tiger 6 with :05 left in the second quarter. After Giles County eschewed the field goal attempt, Christian completed a short pass to Oliver in the right flat, but Smith made a touchdown saving tackle at the two-yard line as time expired in the half to maintain Marshall County's tenuous two-point lead.
The Bobcats came up empty on their first two drives of the second half before experiencing another special teams mishap when Stafford dropped the snap on a punt attempt and was tackled by a host of Tigers at the Giles County 33.
Marshall County once again made the Bobcats pay for the special teams blunder, as Carter picked up 28 yards on a designed quarterback run before finding Chapman wide open in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown pass on the next play. Tears then ran in the two-point conversion attempt to give the Tigers a 16-6 lead with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Marshall County had a chance to pad their lead after Mealer picked off a pass by Christian at the Bobcat 38 a few moments later, but Holt intercepted a pass by Tears at the two-yard line to snuff out the Tiger threat.
Score and no more
Holt's interception seemed to give Giles County new life, as the Bobcats methodically marched 98 yards to the end zone in 17 plays, capped by a Oliver nine-yard TD run, to narrow the gap to 16-12. Tadajewski then tackled Brandon Houston in the backfield on the two-point conversion attempt to keep the deficit at four.
After Dakota Fagan recovered Giles County's onside kick attempt, Biggers picked up two first downs with runs of 10 and 21 yards before Marshall County gained nine yards on their next three plays. With Marshall County facing a 4th and inches situation at the Bobcat 13, Michael moved the chains by picking up three yards on a quarterback sneak, which allowed the Tigers to run out the clock.