Tigers win Homecoming
Marshall County took on a break from the region schedule to take on the Stratford Spartans from East Nashville on a dreary Homecoming night following an emotional 46-6 dismantling of longtime rival Giles County the previous week.
The rain didn't keep the fans away as a standing-room-only crowd at Preston Hopkins Field saw the Tigers claim a 38-20 victory.
"They're athletic, they're physical, they pretty much ran over their first four opponents in their four wins to start the year and we knew it was going to be so tough to meet that challenge but we did," Tigers coach Thomas Osteen said. "We played our most physical game of the year and I'm really happy to win a game like that."
The Tigers (5-1, 2-0) picked right up where they left off last week as Ashton Posey picked apart the Spartans defense with a 43-yard pass to Josh Franklin and an 8-yard pass to Darius McKenzie before capping the drive off with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Franklin for an early 7-0 lead.
The Spartans, much improved from the team MCHS beat a season ago 42-8, came right back with a 16-yard TD run to make a 7-6 game.
The Tigers went right back at the Spartans (4-2, 1-1) on the next series with a 40-yard Kamron Liggett run to set up a 9-yard scoring pass from Posey to Zach Johnson and a 15-6 lead. It was Johnson's first TD reception of the year.
Posey and Johnson, a pair of seniors, hooked up on the next series for a 23-yard score to give the Tigers a 22-6 cushion.
That spread didn't last as the Spartans seemingly took the Tigers focus off the game plan with rough play and baited the home team with extra curricular activity after the plays.
"They were trying so hard to get us to fight," Posey said. "We kind of let it get to us in the first half, but we knew that if we fought back they'd know they had us beat because we wouldn't be able to play our game and we didn't let that happen."
The ruse seemed to work early in the second quarter as the Spartans answered with two consecutive touchowns to pull within 22-20 heading into the intermission.
The break seemed to allow the Tigers to refocus with Jay Howard grabbing a 44-yard TD pass from Posey to stretch the lead back to 29-20 four minutes into the third period.
"Coach prepared us for all that extra (curricular) stuff throughout practice the whole week," Howard said. "We had some adversity last year against them and we knew we'd face some this year. So we handled it pretty well in the second half."
The Tigers defense regrouped in the second half, forcing the Spartans to turn the ball over on downs deep in Marshall County territory which led to a Caleb Estes' 34-yard field goal and a 32-20 edge. Estes is perfect on the season (3-3) with a three-point kick in each of the past three games.
"The defense played huge in the second half," Osteen observed. "We had a bunch of fourth down stops that if Stratford had gotten any momentum at all from those plays they are right back in the ballgame. We played lights out defense in the second half."
Posey pushed the final dagger in the hearts of the Spartans with two minutes remaining by hitting a streaking Howard on a 36-yard pass play to put the game out of reach at 38-20.
Posey finished 14-for-20 for 226 yards with no interceptions. His five scoring tosses pushed his total to 17 on the season. Posey, who's yet to suffer an interception, has completed 70 percent of his passes.
Howard finished with a season-high seven receptions to go along with a season-high 109 receiving yards, his first 100-yard game of the year.
Johnson helped the Tigers attack with two TD receptions on just his second and third catches of the year to go along with 61 kick return yards and seven tackles on defense.
"It feels pretty good to get this win," Johnson said. "I feel like they were a little bit more athletic than Overton and we still came out and did what we had to do to win. It feels good to get a win on Homecoming."
Josh Franklin also chipped in a great all-around game rushing for 34 yards, catching two passes for 49 yards and a score and adding two tackles on defense.
Senior Curtis Keiler came up with a huge defensive night with 12 tackles while J.Q. Haislip had 11 and his second interception of the year in consecutive games. Freshman Jayson Wilcox also had 11 tackles, with Iendi Biggers and Payton Hood each chipping in six.
The Tigers will travel south on Friday to take on Lawrence County (2-4, 1-1) in a region game at 7 p.m.
Stratford High School 6 14 0 0 -- 20
Marshall County High School 7 15 10 6 -- 38
M -- Josh Franklin 5 pass from Posey (Caleb Estes kick).
S -- Corey Simmons 16 run (pass failed).
M -- Zach Johnson 8 pass from Posey (Posey run).
M -- Johnson 27 pass from Posey (Estes kick).
S -- Josh Trueheart 7 run (Simmons run).
S -- Trevaughn Hatcher 23 pass from Trueheart (run failed).
M -- Jay Howard 44 pass from Posey (Estes kick).
M -- Estes 37 field goal.
M -- Howard 35 pass from Posey (kick failed)
Total Yards: Marshall County 351; Startford 406.
Rushing: Marshall County 125; Startford 239.
Passing: Marshall County 226; Startford 167.
Marshall County: Kamron Liggett 8-56; Jay Howard 4-34; Josh Franklin 7-34; Ashton Posey 1-11.
Marshall County: Ashton Posey 14-20-226, 5 TD.
Marshall County: Jay Howard 7-109-2TD; Josh Franklin 2-49-TD; Zach Johnson 2-35-2TD, Darius Mckenzie 2-18; Montrell Harris 1-15.
Turnovers: Marshall County 1; Stratford 1.
Marshall County: JQ Haislip.
Marshall County: Curtis Keiler 12; JQ Haislip 11; Jayson Wilcox 11; Zach Johnson 7; Iendi Biggers 6; Payton Hood 6 (sack); Steven Dangerfield 4; Tavi Mclean 3 (sack); Tanner Clark 2; Josh Franklin 2 (sack); Hunter Cummings 2; Prentice Davis 2 (sack); Kamron Liggett 2; Roshan Desai 1; Joseph Freeland 1; Blair Conger 1; Tae tae Lyttle 1.