Marshall County runs over Rebels
One time tested trait of a great football team is to never overlook an opponent- no matter how heavily your team might be favored or who the next opponent might be. The Tigers passed the test with flying colors on Friday night with a season opening 49-6 win at Franklin County.
The Marshall County machine was running on all cylinders against the Rebels with six different Tigers scoring and first-time starting quarterback Bryce Wallace throwing for 205 yards on 14-17 attempts.
"I'm happy with the way we started," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen, who is now 3-0 in Tiger openers, said. "You work all off season and you want to have a good first showing."
"The things I'm happiest about tonight is we played hard, played with passion and energy, played great defensively for 95 percent of the game and took care of the ball on offense," Osteen continued. "And on a night when it was wet and sloppy and you could have some excuses for turning it over. So, just happy we played really good defense and took care of the ball on offense."
Two of the biggest questions entering the season were answered emphatically as Bryce Wallace turned in a near perfect performance and the young offensive line paved the way for four rushing touchdowns and created gaping holes for running backs De'Andre Brown and Kamron Liggett throughout the night.
"It was exciting getting to finally be a starting varsity quarterback playing in a high school game," Wallace, who passed for two touchdowns, said. "They've accepted me here and it's been nice. There's no place I'd rather be."
"We work as a team, we're brothers," offensive lineman Dave Roberts added. "We're united. First day of practice we were told to be brothers. We worked and worked through the summer work outs and we have learned to work well as a team."
The Tigers, who beat Franklin County 60-23 to open the 2015 season in Lewisburg, jumped on the home team from the onset, scoring a quick rushing touchdown by Kamron Liggett, last season's second leading rusher.
Before the Rebels had a chance to catch its breath, highly touted wide receiver Tre Crutcher took a Franklin County punt 54 yards to the end zone with two minutes remaining in the opening period.
"That was crazy, we've been practicing that all week," Crutcher, who led the team with 159 all-purpose yards, said. "When I was running, I heard D'Andre (Brown) say- 'over here, over here', so when I saw him I kind of cut back, followed them and they took me to the end zone."
Another first year Tiger-Cain McWilliams, got his first score for the blue and white after Brown caught an 11-yard pass and broke off a 14-yard run to bring Marshall County to the one-yard line where McWilliams ran over a host of Rebel defenders for the easy score and 21-0 lead after a Caleb Estes extra point.
Wallace made his presence felt on the next possession when facing a third and 28, the sophomore quarterback hit a streaking Crutcher for a 40-yard gain before hitting Jay Howard for the 20-yard score and the 28-0 halftime edge.
The Tigers came out just as hungry in the second half as Liggett powered through the Rebel defense for a 34-yard run and Brown finished the job by running over a Franklin County linebacker on his way to the end zone and an insurmountable 35-0 lead.
Brown, who missed the entire 2015 season with a knee injury, finished the game with 49 yards on eight carries in his return to the field for the Tigers.
"You never know what you got good until it's taken away from you so I try to do every play on the field with no regrets in my head about the injury or what may happen this time or this play," Brown stated. "I live in the moment because everything I do is in God's plan. But it felt good to be out on the field."
Backup in on TD
Back-up quarterback Malik Thomison got his first taste of varsity competition on the next series when Wallace had to leave the field for one play because of a head gear problem and Liggett made sure the sophomore got to taste the end zone on his lone play as the junior running back scored his second touchdown of the night on a 62-yard scamper to the end zone.
"After the play when Bryce (Wallace) got his helmet ripped off we came back with the toss to the left and I scored on a pretty decent run," Liggett, who finished with 78 rushing yards, said. "My receivers were out there blocking good, the line blocked good, there were no leak through and I saw a hole, burst through the hole, had one man to beat and I got him with a stiff arm and it was a touchdown after that."
Wallace tacked on one final touchdown in the fourth quarter when a new weapon, Matt Runions, made a highlight real catch in the corner of the end zone.
The Tigers defense, led by Tavi McLean with nine tackles and three tackles for a loss, was equally as impressive as the offense, giving up just 80 yards of total offense to the Rebels.
The defensive backfield, a big question mark in the off season, did not allow a single completion by Rebel quarterback Cadon Sons.
First year senior Keevon Maxwell (three tackles, one TFL) teamed with defensive leaders J.Q. Maxwell (eight tackles, two TFL), Hunter Cummings (seven tackles, one pass defended), and Cain McWilliams (eight tackles, one TFL) to allow the Rebels a dismal three first downs.
With the Rebels in the rear view mirror, the Tigers must now turn towards unfinished business from the 2015 season, as the only team to beat Marshall County during the regular season, Overton, makes the drive down I-65 from Nashville to Lewisburg on Friday night.
"It's a huge game, it's a team that's a very good football team coming to our place," Osteen stated. "A team that if we're gonna have the chance to do some of the things we want to do this year, we've got to be able to play with a team like that."
"So it's just going to be a great measuring stick of where we are as a team, how sound we are, because if we're weak anywhere, Overton is going to expose it because they have great players and great coaches," Osteen added."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg as the Tigers try to get revenge from last year's overtime loss to the Bobcats, who beat Stewarts Creek 41-7 at home to open the season.
Marshall County 14 14 14 7-49
Franklin County 0 0 6 0-6
Marshall County: Kamron Liggett 1 run (Caleb Estes kick)
Marshall County: Tre Crutcher 54 punt return (Estes kick)
Marshall County: Cain McWilliams 1 run (Estes kick)
Marshall County: Jay Howard 20 pass from Bryce Wallace (Estes kick)
Marshall County: D'Andre Brown 10 run (Estes kick)
Franklin County: Jarious Johnson 2 run (kick failed)
Marshall County: Liggett 62 run (Estes kick)
Fourth quarter: Matt Runions 4 pass from Wallace (Estes kick)
Rushing: 23-136 yards
Kamron Liggett 9-78-2TD
D'Andre Brown 8-49-TD
Bryce Wallace 4-9
Cain McWilliams 1-1
Jay Howard 1-(-1)
Bryce Wallace 14-17-205-2TD
Tre Crutcher 5-97
Kamron Liggett 3-47
Jay Howard 3-31-TD
Noah Jorgenson 1-15
D'Andre Brown 1-11
Matt Runions 1-4-TD
Tre Crutcher 2-62-TD
Jay Howard 2-71
Caleb Estes 7-7
Defense: Rushing 42-80, Passing 0-2-0
Cain McWilliams 8 (sack), JQ Haislip 8, Hunter Cummings 7, D'Andre Brown 4, Trent Richardson 4, Keevon Maxwell 3, Josh Johnson 2, Tre Fields 1, Tristan Maxwell 1