Tigers fall late at Pearl-Cohn
To be the best you have to beat the best and Marshall County put that theory to the test on Friday night with a trip inside the heart of north Nashville against perennial state powerhouse Pearl-Cohn (4-2).
For a brief moment, the Tigers looked to have pulled of the near impossible of beating the Firebirds on homecoming when Marshall County quarterback Bryce Wallace hit wide receiver Devon Wilson on a 15-yard slant pass for a touchdown with 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 24-21 lead.
But after a long kickoff return, the Firebirds needed just five plays to run the ball into the end zone and complete the 28-24 comeback against the Tigers (4-2).
The Firebirds have not lost on its home field since a 2013 second round 4A playoff loss against Giles County and had reached the 4A semifinals in 2014 and 2016 with a 4A state championship appearance in 2015 before being reclassified to 3A for 2017.
"I feel like we did a bunch of good things on all three phases of the game, but the bottom line is Pearl-Cohn is a very good team and it's going to be a shocker if they're not in the 3A state title game versus Alcoa," Tiger coach Thomas Osteen remarked. "We did a bunch of good things to give ourselves a shot. We knew that they were going to get some yards on us and score some points, but for the most part we kept them contained."
For the second straight game the Tiger defense turned in a noteworthy performance by holding a Pearl-Cohn squad that had scored at least 49 points in its previous three wins (RePublic, Giles County, CPA) to just 21 points heading into the final drive of the game.
"We really just wanted to stop number two (Jimmyrious Parker) and number five (Jayden Harrison)," Tiger Linebacker Andrew Gold, who finished with three tackles, said. "(Parker) is very fast, I know you saw him get down the sideline one time. We didn't completely do what we wanted to do and they made a few more plays than us in the end."
Hunter Cummings turned in a standout performance with a team-high 12 tackles and a 17-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Tavi McLean and Grant Agnew added eight tackles apiece and Miciah Greer chipped in with seven.
On the offensive side on the ball, Wallace turned in another great performance under center with 177 yards and two touchdowns in the air and another 21 yards and a score on the ground.
Behind a standout performance from an outmatched offensive line from a size standpoint, the Tigers gained 125 yards on the ground, led by Kamron Liggett with 89 yards. Liggett finished with 101 all-purpose yards.
Wide receiver Brandon Rowan turned in his finest game as a Tiger with 81 yards through the air while sophomore Devon Wilson added 53 yards on two clutch catches.
"We did well overall, but we did make a couple mistakes," senior offensive lineman Dave Roberts said. "Their defense was really, really talented. For me, even with being a four-year veteran, it was kind of hard to read their defense.”
“So we had some difficulties. We did catch on to some of their strategies. But they were really fast so we tried to hold them and I think we did fairly well."
The Tigers took an early lead on a Wallace designed run, but the Firebirds finally hit its stride and needed just five plays after Marshall County turned the ball over on downs at midfield to even the score at 7-7.
A Tiger breakdown down on defense finally allowed Pearl-Cohn to take the lead as Parker took a reverse 70 yards for a touchdown score on just the second play of the drive.
"I hate that we gave them the reverse there in the second quarter," Osteen said. "That gave them a big touchdown, but for the most part we contained their big play guys and contained their passing game a little bit better than I thought we would."
The Tigers let a chance to put points on the board just before halftime slip away due to confusion on timeout availability that left field goal kicker Caleb Estes no time on the clock after a 26 yard pass to Rowan down to the 25 yard line with one second before the halftime whistle blew.
The Tigers regained the momentum midway through the third quarter as Hunter Cummings caught a 17-yard pass to tie the score at 14-14 with just over seven minutes on the clock.
The Firebirds quickly reclaimed the lead on a David Anderson 39-yard run, but Estes got his chance at a field goal and made the most of the opportunity with a 44-yarder to trim the lead to 21-17.
The Tiger defense forced a huge fumble on a Pearl-Cohn third-and-eight play, forcing the Firebirds to punt, giving the Tigers an opportunity to seize control of the contest.
On a fourth-and-eight yards to go, Wallace shot a bullet to Dagon Stacy for 18 yards to keep the Tigers hopes alive.
Wallace then rushed for seven yards and Liggett added three for another first down before Wallace hit Wilson for what looked like the winning touchdown with 2:16 remaining.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Parker returned the ball 45 yards to set up the Firebirds in great position.
Pearl-Cohn needed just five plays and barely over a minute’s time to dash the Tigers hope of an upset when Anderson ran in from five yards out with just under a minute remaining for the 28-24 win.
"We're gonna be in close games the entire year and there's no moral victories, but I'm proud of our effort tonight and I think we did a bunch of good things against a great team," Osteen stated.
The Tigers hop back into region play with a rare Thursday matchup at Lawrence County due to the Lawrence County Fair.
The Wildcats (2-4, 0-2) are coming off a 29-28 win over 5A Hardin County last Friday to break a four-game losing streak, including a 41-0 thrashing by new region opponent Nolensville that gave the Knights its first ever varsity win at the three-year old Williamson County school.
"Lawrence County is always a tough, physical football team," Osteen explained. "They want to run the ball, grind the clock, and shorten the game. They're not overly athletic but with that being said, when they get their Wing T offense rolling they have beaten and put scares into some really good opponents."
"The biggest thing is that we can't let Pearl-Cohn beat us twice," Osteen added. "I feel like we've got a really good group of seniors that know that we've got so much to play for and our goals are still out there in front of us. I think they will be ready."
Marshall County 7 0 7 10-24
Pearl-Cohn 0 14 7 7-28
Total Yards-Marshall County 302, Pearl-Cohn 334
Rushing-Marshall County 125, Pearl-Cohn 293
Passing-Marshall County 177, Pearl-Cohn 293
Marshall County Offense
Rushing-Kamron Liggett 18-89, Bryce Wallace 17-21-TD, Devon Wilson 1-15
Passing-Bryce Wallace 14-26-177-2TD
Receiving-Brandon Rowan 7-81, Devon Wilson 2-53-TD, Dagon Stacy 1-18, Hunter Cummings 1-17-TD, Kamron Liggett 2-12, Miciah Greer 1-(-4)
Kickoffs-Devon Wilson 1-20, Miciah Greer 1-15
Punts-Marcellus Campbell 3-9
Kickoffs-Caleb Estes 5-297-2TB
PAT-Caleb Estes 3-3
Field Goals-Caleb Estes 1-1-43yds.
Tackles-Hunter Cummings 12, Grant Agnew 8, Tavi Mclean 8, Miciah Greer 7, Billy Cheek 4, Andrew Gold 3, Marcellus Campbell 3, Dagon Stacy 3, Mason Warner 2, Josh Johnson 2 (SACK), Jayshon Wilcox 2, Devon Wilson 1, Keylin Talley 1, Taylor Clark 1