Second half surge carries Tigers over Bobcats
For the first time in a long time, the Marshall County Tigers (5-2) and Bobcats met in the regular season with no region title hopes on the line as the Bobcats (4-3) dropped down to 3A for the 2017 season.
But region game or not, when Marshall and Giles get together in any sport the game will be intense and the stands will be packed as the two longtime rivals sit just under 24 miles apart down US 31-A.
The early scoring was fast and plentiful as the two squads went back and forth for a 21-21 tie into halftime before the defense dug deep and held the Bobcats to just one third quarter score to run away with the 48-28 Homecoming win.
"Our objective was to stop the pass game because their quarterback has an arm," senior defensive end Tavi McLean, who had seven tackles, two tackles for a loss, one quarterback hurry, and one pass defended, said. "Put pressure on him and every way, we had to have guys step up in the secondary and make tackles so we didn't give up extra yards."
The secondary did a masterful job on the Bobcats receivers, forcing Giles County quarterback and UT-Martin commitment John Baccheus into three interceptions in the contest.
Baccheus came into the contest with 19 touchdown passes and just three interceptions over six games.
Tiger senior running back Kam Liggett continues to get stronger as the season wears on, rushing for 250 yards and five touchdowns on just 25 carries for a 10-yard per carry average.
Liggett is 55 yards away from crossing the 1,000 yard mark on the season and has already gained 1,006 all-purpose to go along with 20 total touchdowns.
"Really just being patient (led to the 250 yard game)," Liggett said. "During the first half it was neck to neck. My line was blocking great and opening up huge holes. During the second half Giles got tired and wore down. We just hit harder in the second half."
Devon Wilson also continues to develop as the season continues, grabbing three balls for 64 yards and added a 34 yard kick return to finish with 98 all-purpose yards.
Bryce Wallace finished the contest with 111 yards in the air with a touchdown and 31 rushing yards and has yet to throw an interception in 2017, while leading the Tiger offense.
After allowing two opening quarter scores, the Tiger defense dug deep and allowed the high-powered Bobcat offense just two more scores the remainder of the game with a shutout in the final frame.
The Bobcats came into the contest averaging 42 points per game over its three-game winning streak.
Senior Grant Agnew led the Tigers with eight tackles and two passes defended, sophomore linebacker Andrew Gold added seven, and Hunter Cummings and Miciah Greer each chipped in with six take downs.
Joseph Freeland, Wilson, and Cummings all contributed an interception with Cummings returning his pick 56 yards to setup another Tiger score.
"This win felt great. Amazing," McLean, who leads the defense with 50 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, five sacks, and 13 quarterback hurries, exclaimed. "It always feels great to beat Giles. Region or not, this was a great win for us."
The Tigers get back into the region fight as the season winds down.
The Spring Hill Raiders (4-3, 2-1), tied for second place in Region 4-4A, travel to Lewisburg on Friday on a bit of a downward slide.
After starting the season 3-0, the Raiders are 1-3 in the past four games, including a close 20-17 setback versus Maplewood (5-3, 2-1).
The eighth-ranked Tigers then face a huge non-region test in #8 (6A,AP) Brentwood before closing off the regular season against a suddenly hot Nolensville (3-5, 2-1).
Spring Hill, Maplewood, and Nolensville are all tied for second place with Marshall County sitting alone atop the 4-4A standings.