Tigers bounce back with a vengeance
Marshall County traveled to Coffee County Friday night to open region play against Tullahoma looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking one-point loss to Overton the previous week.
The Tigers rebounded in a way most teams dream about by posting the program's first shutout since the 2012 season in a 41-0 romp in the region contest. Marshall County had given up 42 points at Overton.
"We just came out here (and) played good football," said running back Josh Franklin, who led the Tigers with two touchdowns. "Last week, we didn't play to our full potential and this week we came out ready to make a statement."
The Tigers (2-1, 1-0) made that statement early and often starting out with a 79-yard touchdown pass from Ashton Posey to favorite target Jay Howard just four minutes into the game.
"I think that play set the tone," Howard beamed after the game. "We came into the game with a nasty taste in our mouth and we were really focused. We had a lot of heart this week in practice and converted it to the game tonight."
Setting the tone
Added Coach Thomas Osteen: "I think that pass did set the tone tonight, but I think even more important than that our defense also set the tone by getting a stop on the first series of the game to allow our offense to get on the board first. Our defense got off to a rough start last week and we needed to get some confidence going. (Tullahoma) picked up a few yards on the first drive, but after that, they were pretty much shut down the rest of the game."
In what is becoming a regular occurrence this season the Tigers gave the Wildcats (0-3, 0-1) a heavy dose of sophomore Kamron Liggett (47 yards on the drive) and Josh Franklin (13 yards) before Franklin plowed into the end zone for the first of his scores for 14-0 lead.
One after another
The Wildcats barely had time to catch a breath before Franklin struck again with a 5-yard touchdown run to widen the gap between the first-year region opponents to 21-0.
Not to be outdone, Liggett wowed the crowd with a 74 yard run for a touchdown four minutes later. Liggett finished with 117 yards .
The Wildcats furthered doomed any comeback attempt late in the half by trying an ill- advised fake punt deep in Tigers territory. The visitors were not fooled by the trickery and stopped the play well short of a first down to gain control of the ball with under a minute left in the quarter.
The Tigers made the Wildcats pay for the mistake as Posey hit Matt Runions with a pass before connecting with fellow senior Montrell Harris for a 35-0 halftime cushion. It was Posey's ninth TD pass of the season and first scoring reception of the year by Harris.
The second half was played with a running clock, and the Tigers defense preserved the shutout.
"I think the first drive set the tone for the entire game defensively," senior defensive end Prentiss Harris said. "We just came out more physical this week. We had such a slow start last week, we waited too late to start playing. I think it was easier to get motivated for this game because we're already starting to think about the playoffs. This is a region game so it will help us make the playoffs."
If Harris set the tone for the Tigers with his defensive play on the line finishing with eight tackles, two for a loss and a sack, Iendi Biggers provided an exclamation point for the rest of the Tiger defense when he scooped up a blocked punt by Josh Franklin and dashed into the end zone for the final Marshall County score of the night.
Biggers' big night
"I just came through the middle and saw (Josh Franklin) blocked the punt so I just picked it up and ran," Biggers said. "Last week, we weren't very physical so this week we had a more physical practice and we came out and executed like we were supposed to."
Biggers not only scored a TD for the Tigers but also finished with an interception and three tackles.
Zach Johnson added eight tackles and an interception he returned 26 yards. Tanner Clark also had eight ackles while Blair Conger added 6.
"I think our defensive preparation all week was immensely better than last week," Osteen said. "There was a greater since of urgency. We've got to prepare better, practice harder, and we've got to tackle."
Special team play rounded out a great effort from every element of the team as a whole.
Marshall County goes outside of the region for the next game at home at 7 p.m. Friday against struggling East Nashville (0-3).
"They are an athletic team," Osteen said. "They have a four-star linebacker that moved in from Beech (Hendersonville). They've lost the first three games by really close margins against really good teams.
"They're a lot like Overton and you see what happened to us against Overton."
Marshall County 14 21 6 0-41
Tullahoma 0 0 0 0-0
Marshall County-Kamron Liggett 5-117-1, Josh Franklin 8-35-2, Malik Harris 4-32, Ashton Posey 4-31, Jay Howard 1-9, Zach Johnson 1-7, Bryce Wallace 4-4.
Marshall County-Ashton Posey 6-13-133, Bryce Wallace 2-3-27.
Marshall County-Jay Howard 3-84-1, Montrell Harris 2-31-1, Malik Harris 1-21, Matt Runions 1-18, Allante Watts 1-6.
Marshall County-Tanner Clark 8, Zach Johnson 8, Prentice Davis 8 (sack), Blair Conger 6, JQ Haislip 5, Hunter Cummings 4, Curtis Keiler 4, Tae tae Lyttle 4 (sack). Iendi Biggers 3, Tavi Mclean 3 (sack).