Tigers cruise to playoff victory
The first round of the TSSAA state playoffs passed through Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg with more of a low key feel as the MCHS Tigers (11-0) beat the East Hamilton Hurricanes (5-6) with ease 46-0 for its second shutout in as many playoff games.
"I'm just happy that we executed on all three phases again tonight," MCHS coach Thomas Osteen said. "We started fast, we respected our opponent, didn't come out of the gate slow because we weren't focused and we had a great week of preparation in practice and all of those things came together and that's what happens when you execute in all three phases of the game."
Region 4-4A dominated the Cumberland Plateau-Chattanooga area region 3-4A in every game on Friday with Spring Hill taking down undefeated region number one seed Stone Memorial, Page easily eliminating Chattanooga Central, and Giles County trounced Hixson to set a huge rivalry matchup between the Bobcats and Tigers on Friday night at Lewisburg.
"I can promise that this coaching staff is so focused on what's going on and so many people are heavily invested that we are not going to overlook any moment," Osteen stated. "Its human nature to look ahead a little bit but bottom line is that we play a Giles County team that was good enough to beat us the last time (2014 first round)."
The Tigers beat the Hurricanes much the same way MCHS triumphed over Page the previous Friday----with a multitude of weapons on the offensive end and big plays on the defensive side of the ball.
D'Andre Brown got the Tigers down to the goal line on the first possession on 30 rushing yards before Wallace ran the ball in for an early 7-0 lead after the Estes PAT.
Knew what to do
"At the beginning of the game we'd already repped it so many times I kinda knew what the plays were going to be, so I already knew where to cut and how to cut," Brown said. "I had some openings, ran to my blockers and kept pounding and pounding."
After an East Hamilton three-and-out, the Tigers hopped on the back of Kamron Liggett, who rushed twice to put the Marshall County offense at midfield before breaking away on a 36-yard run and finally crossing the end zone on a 10-yard carry.
"(We) really we came out with a bang at the beginning of the game," Liggett said. "The offensive line was blocking very well and everybody on the edge was blocking very well so it made things easy for the running backs and wide receivers to catch screens and just run downhill and that made it an easy night for everyone."
The Tigers weren't finished putting points on the scoreboard in the opening period as another option emerged in Jay Howard, who tallied a 17-yard grab before catching a screen pass and racing 23 yards to the house and 21-0 lead after another Estes kick with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Much the same
The second quarter offered much of the same as the Tigers extended their lead to 28-0 when defensive back Donothan Tears grabbed his team leading fourth interception of the season and ran 45 yards to the end zone to break the contest wide open.
"We were out there making our calls and J.Q. called it, he said, 'watch the post coming, watch the middle'- and of course what we had I was supposed to cover the middle," Tears said. "So I back peddled and I saw the route break off and that's when I stepped in and it was just a pass across the middle and took off."
"I've got to dedicate that to my blockers though because they blocked their tail off and that's why I scored."
The rest of the contest was all blue and white, punctuated by a Hunter Cummings sack of the Hurricane quarterback in the end zone resulting in a fumble which was recovered by Class 4A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year semifinalist Cain McWilliams for a touchdown and a 43-0 Tiger lead on the back end of the third quarter.
"Our defensive strategy was just everyone play to their assignment and everybody did that well," McWilliams said. "We executed that to the max."
The Tigers face a Giles County squad it beat 45-10 during the regular season, but when these two bitter rivals play the record books are tossed out as evidenced in a Bobcat upset over the Tigers just two years ago in the postseason.
"We expect their best game because you know they're going to want redemption," Liggett said. "Giles is always gonna play their best game against us and that's all we have to prepare for is to play our best game and come out and win the second round."
East Hamilton 0 0 0 0-0
Marshall County 21 15 7 3-46
Marshall County- Jay Howard 20 pass from Bryce Wallace (Caleb Estes kick)
Marshall County- Kamron Liggett 10 run (Estes kick)
Marshall County-Howard 23 pass from Wallace (Estes kick)
Marshall County- Donathon Tears 45 interception return (Trent Richardson run) Marshall County-Wallace 24 run (Estes kick)
Marshall County-Cain McWilliams fumble recovery (Estes kick)
Marshall County-Estes 27 field goal
Total yards-(369) Rushing 177, Passing 192
Rushing-Kamron Liggett 10-74-TD, D'Andre Brown 4-35, Bryce Wallace 4-26-TD, Malik Thomison 4-22, Elijah Taylor 5-20
Passing-Bryce Wallace 11-17-191-2TD, Malik Thomison 1-1-1
Receiving-Jay Howard 8-132-2TD, D'Andre Brown 1-31, Tre Crutcher 2-28, Caleb Darnell 1-1
Tackles-Trent Richardson 8, Hunter Cummings 7, Cain McWilliams 7 (fumble recovery), Tavi McLean 6, D'Andre Brown 5, JQ Haislip 3, Miciah Greer 3, Tae Tae Lyttle 3, Jayshon Wilcox 3, Tre Fields 2, Josh Johnson 2, Andrew Gold 1, Donathon Tears 1 (INT), Will Medley 1, Blair Conger 1, Joseph Freeland 1, Devon Wilson 1, X'zavier Garrett 1
Kicking-Caleb Estes (5-for-5 PAT, 1-for-1 FG-27, 7 touchbacks, Punting 1-37)