Persistent CMS holds off LMS
Football is often described as a game of inches and Lewisburg Middle School (1-7) came within inches of a win twice on Thursday night, but Cornersville Middle School (6-2) managed to hang on for the 18-16 win in the much anticipated intra-county rivalry.
"Persistence was the key to our win tonight," Cornersville coach Ray Stocstill said. "We didn't quit playing hard. We didn't play very well early in the game, but we kept playing really hard and had guys cramping up and everything else but they just kept playing."
Cornersville started off the game the same way the southern Marshall County school usually does-- with a long touchdown run by running back Brady Calahan, who raced 41 yards for the score and a 6-0 lead after the two-point conversion failed with less than a minute ticked off the clock.
The Tigers were quick to answer on a 15-yard Kaden Whitson touchdown run and two-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead 1:30 after the Bulldog score.
The two defenses would go to battle for the rest of the initial quarter and the first half of the second before Whitson broke away for another touchdown run for 16 yards and his second two-point conversion of the night put the Tigers up 16-6 heading into halftime.
"I told them to just keep playing," Stocstill said. "That's all you can do. Play the next play."
Cornersville heeded its coach's advice and on the first drive of the third quarter, Calahan broke off a 75-yard run to set up a five-yard touchdown by the running back to bring the visitors within four at 16-12 with 4:02 remaining in the quarter.
The Tigers went to work on the next possession by handing the ball off to multiple backs and taking almost four minutes off the clock, but the drive stalled on the five-yard line and the Cornersville defense showed its worth on four straight downs to gain possession back with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Tiger defense was able to stop the Bulldogs' offense and with a chance to put the game away the Cornersville defense was able to stop the driving Lewisburg offense with one more chance to go for the win.
The Lewisburg defense dug deep and with the Bulldogs threatening in the red zone the Tigers were able to push Cornersville back to the 24-yard line for a fourth and long play with under a minute remaining in the contest.
For the first and only time on the night, James Mathis completed a pass to Garrett Alder for the first down on the goal line and with the game clock ticking down, Calahan put the Bulldogs up 18-16 on a five-yard run with just 36 seconds remaining in the contest.
The Tigers were not finished and after recovering an onside kick for great field position, Lewisburg got four shots down field on a rarely challenged Bulldog secondary.
Silas Hurt was able to slip behind the Bulldog defense, but the throw bobbled out of his hands on what would have been the game winning touchdown pass from Christian Stacey.
The Tigers had three more chances, but none of the passes came close to its target and the Bulldogs were able to pull off the monumental upset of its neighbor to the north.
The Bulldog offense was once again led by star running back Brady Calahan, who finished with 276 yards rushing on 23 attempts and 1.5 tackles on defense.
Alex Hilliard had 32 yards on three carries and a game leading six tackles, including a tackle for loss.
James Mathis also led the Bulldogs with six tackles and Trenton Posey chipped in 3.5 tackles with one tackle for a loss.
The Tiger offense was paced by Kaden Whitson finishing with 150 yards on 15 carries, Christian Stacey completing four-of-nine pass attempts for 53 yards and A'Ky Howard came up with three catches for 39 yards and eight yards rushing.
"They've got a good program here and have had for years," Stocstill noted. "I do think ours is on the upswing. I think coach (Gerrard) Randolph is doing a great job with the high school and hopefully we can send him some players each year so he can keep that going."
"We've got some kids that are putting their heart and soul in it," Stocstill added. "We haven't always had that but we have it now. It's a fun place to be."