Tigers tame Wildcats
Explosive offense leads second-round victory
Marshall County came into Friday's game looking to win a second-round playoff game for the first time since 2011 and just the fifth time in the history of the program against the upstart Livingston Academy (7-5) which derailed Lawrence County by over 30 points to get a chance at the Tigers.
Livingston looked like a shell of the team that won handily in the opening round on Friday as the Tigers (11-1) sent a message to the rest of Class 4A that the 2015 version of Marshall County would be a force to be reckoned with after a 49-13 dismantling of Livingston Academy behind 28 second quarter points by the home team.
"I thought at the end of the day we were more physical than they were," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen said. "We competed like crazy all night. They're a good football team, they have a great running back and he got some yards tonight but one player didn't make a whole team."
The Tigers stunned the Wildcat defense with 526 total yards led by senior Josh Franklin's 176 yards on just six carries including a tie-breaking 69-yard run in the first quarter in which the shifty back broke four tackles before breaking free.
"In practice we do the balance drill for situations like that," Franklin said. "And that's what I used, the balance drill to stay up."
"Our team has the ability to switch out between me and (Kamron Liggett)," Franklin added. "People have to focus and prepare for us both instead of just one running back."
On top of the tall order of preparing for Franklin and Liggett on the ground the Livingston Academy defense also had to contend with a healthy dose of Mr. Football finalist Ashton Posey's season high 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just seven carries.
Posey will go up against Amari Rodgers from Knoxville Catholic High School for the 4A award.
The Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards will be presented to the top 16 backs and linemen in eight classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association on Monday, November 30, 2015, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Mike Keith, play-by-play voice of the Tennessee Titans, will emcee the awards presentation. A live video stream of the awards will be provided at www.titansonline.com.
Liggett takes off
Kamron Liggett added another dimension to the ground game, scoring on consecutive possessions to end the first quarter and to start the second quarter.
Liggett finished with 80 yards on 13 carries for the Tigers.
Posey started off the Tiger scoring early in the first quarter, but the Wildcats gave the Tigers an early scare by marching 75 yards on 13 plays and scoring on a 12-yard Dylan Linder run to complete a seven minute clock eating drive to knot the game at 7-7 with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
"I told the team that it's just 7-7," Posey said. "We can come out here and get another score, get them on their toes and run it up real quick if we keep our mindset."
The Tigers did just that on the next possession when Liggett found the end zone on a one-yard plunge after a long Franklin run to give Marshall County the 14-7 lead, following the Caleb Estes extra point.
The Wildcats continued to move the ball on the Tigers on the next possession before J.Q. Haislip intercepted a Logan Clark pass at the four-yard line to shift the momentum back to Marshall County.
The Mr. Football finalist showed off his legs on the next possession racing 60 yards down the sidelines before being shoved out of bounds. Liggett rushed for 14 yards before breaking through the Wildcat defense for his second score of the night from nine yards out for a 20-7 early lead.
The Wildcats made a huge mistake by fumbling the kickoff return and Tre Crutcher took the pitch 17 yards to the end zone on the first play from scrimmage to make the score 28-7 after a Curtis Keiler two- point conversion run.
The Wildcats drive was cut short at the Marshall County 32-yard line on the possession when Livingston gambled on fourth down, getting stuffed by the stout Marshall County defense.
Through the line
"I was kind of surprised I was able to penetrate the defensive line so many times," defensive lineman Blair Conger said. "Peyton Hood is a big influence on our defense and they were keying in on him so I guess they weren't watching out for me, so I got to do what I do best."
Posey tacked on another touchdown run on the next possession and a Tanner Clark to Keiler pass on the conversion gave the Tigers a 36-7 lead.
So many times this season the Tigers have taken possession with limited time on the clock before halftime and put points on the board and tonight was no exception as Posey perfected the two-minute drill, hitting big tight end Darius McKenzie on three straight passes before finding Jay Howard in the end zone with seconds left on the scoreboard for a seemly insurmountable 42-7 lead in the first half.
"When it comes down to the two minute drill we have some players that can make big plays as far as Jay (Howard) and Tre (Crutcher)," McKenzie said. "With my size I'm not really known as a deep ball receiver. Ashton found me underneath a few times and I was able to make a play."
Josh Franklin scored his second touchdown of the game and only score of the second half early in the third quarter breaking free for a 69-yard scoring run to put the finishing touches on the 49-13 rout of Livingston Academy.
"We talk about not getting to high or too low, staying even keel, letting the chips fall," Osteen said. "We felt like our depth was so much better than theirs, they had six or seven guys going both ways. It really showed how much depth we have, how much harder we were able to play on both sides."
Darius McKenzie led the Tigers in receiving with four receptions for 65 yards, Tre Crutcher contributed two catches for 43 yards, and Jay Howard added 32 yards on five catches.
The Tiger defense accounted for 8.5 tackles for loss on the Wildcats led by Conger's two tackles for losses, Peyton Hood and Tavi McLean each had nine tackles. Zach Johnson chipped in eight tackles. J.Q. Haislip finished with seven tackles, including his third interception on the season.
The Tigers will now travel to Ooltewah on Friday to face the East Hamilton Hurricanes (8-4) who upset number five-ranked and undefeated Stone Memorial last Friday in Crossville.