Tigers fly past Jets in first-round win
Jets grounded quickly after early flight
Despite a stormy forecast, a standing-room-only crowd was on hand at Preston Hopkins Field Friday night to see Marshall County roll into the second round of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Class 4A playoffs with a 54-7 rout of Cumberland County.
The fourth-ranked Tigers (10-1) gained 294 yards on the ground, led by Kamron Liggett with 185 all-purpose yards, to advance to the second round for the first time in five years.
The Tigers are the lone surviving team from Region 4 and will face Livingston Academy (8-3), which eliminated Lawrence County 42-13. Marshall defeated Lawrence 48-7 in the regular season.
"We're matched up with a really good region, a physical downhill region," Tigers coach Thomas Osteen said. "I was rooting for our region, but bottom line, we're matched up against a bunch of good football teams. We're really fortunate to get to play again next week."
The Tigers will face Livingston Academy at 7 p.m. Friday at home.
Osteen predicted earlier in the week that Cumberland County would be a short play, clock-eating squad and that proved to be true on the opening possession. The Jets (5-6) drove 68 yards on 19 plays to eat up almost 10 minutes off of the clock in the first quarter to score their only points of the game.
Early scare, then...
"They executed their game plan to perfection to start the game," said Osteen, whose team is a No. 1 after winning its first region championship in 13 years. "We had two chances to get off the field on third down, didn't do it and those are plays we have to make. They're a good football team and in the playoffs for a reason."
The Tigers were quick to respond on the first play from scrimmage on the next possession when Jay Howard took a toss and cut up the field for a 62-yard touchdown run to even the game.
"I had great blocking on the outside and the line gave my receivers time to set it up," Howard said. "I just hit the outside, the receiver on my side gave me a great hole and I just took it to the house."
Hunter Cummings intercepted Jets quarterback Tyler Howard early in the next possession to give the ball right back to Marshall County. The Tigers struck again quickly as quarterback Ashton Posey hit Tre Crutcher with a 9-yard pass for a touchdown with six seconds left in the first quarter for a 14-7 lead.
Practice pays off
"The preparation in practice during the week allowed us to win this game," Crutcher said. "We really hit it hard. We didn't underestimate this team. We came out here and did what we had to do."
Caleb Estes continued his field goal perfection with two field goals in the first half including a 38-yarder to give the Tigers a 26-7 lead at intermission. Estes is now 8-for-8 on the season with a long of 43 yards.
Liggett exploded for a 76-yard TD run four minutes into the third quarter to all but end the Jets season as the Tigers went up 33-7.
"You can't just focus on one guy with us because we have multiple weapons," Liggett said. "You can't just focus on me because you have Josh (Franklin) and Jay (Howard) and both can hit the outside with really good speed. That's going to help us in the long run."
The Jets tried their an attempt at a comeback on the next series, gaining substantial ground on Marshall County penalties, but the Tigers defense held strong forcing Cumberland County to turn the ball over on downs. The Jets managed just four first downs after their initial scoring drive.
"We had a real good week of practice," senior defensive back Steven Dangerfield said. "Our offense gave us a real good look at what they run and that allowed for us to play tough against them all night."
Franklin, a senior, had just five carries on the night for 57 yards but made them count scoring on touchdown runs of 19 and 15 yards to help close out the romp.
"We've worked hard to come here and we're going to keep working hard and hopefully go to the state championship," said Posey, a Mr. Football semifinalist. "We're just going to keep taking it one week at a time because that's what's allowed us to be in this position now."
Posey led the Tigers attack by completing 12 of 14 passes for 158 yards and a TD. Liggett had 138 yards on just eight carries to exceed 100 yards for the second straight game.
Howard finished with 60 rushing yards on three attempts.
Crutcher once again led the Tigers in receiving with 53 yards on four receptions. Liggett caught three balls for 47 yards and Darius McKenzie had a big grab right before the half for 27 yards.
Tanner Clark led the Tigers with 10 tackles while Payton Hood finished with eight and J.Q. Haislip chipped in seven.
Cumberland County 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Marshall County 14 12 14 14 -- 54
C -- Dylan Wyatt 1 pass from Tyler Howard (kick good).
M -- Jay Howard 62 run (Caleb Estes kick).
M -- Tre Crutcher 19 pass from Ashton Posey (Estes kick).
M -- Estes 31 field foal.
M -- Posey 1 run (kick failed).
M -- Estes 38 field goal.
M -- Kamron Liggett 76 run (Estes kick).
M -- Josh Franklin 19 run (Estes kick).
M -- Franklin 14 run (Marvin Jaimes kick).
M -- Bryce Wallace 1 run (Estes kick).