Tigers outlast Shelbyville
When most people hear the name Shelbyville Central, women's basketball is the first thing to come to mind.
The Lady Eagles basketball team has won numerous state championships and two national championships but recently, the Shelbyville Central football team has put together a sneaky good record.
The Eagles (1-1) have qualified for the 5A playoffs in each of the last five seasons including a 5A quarterfinal appearance in 2013 with 35-21 record over that span.
But even when things are going well for the Eagles, the Tigers always seem to have their number, as evidenced by a 40-26 Marshall County win during the aforementioned 2013 quarterfinal run.
And despite the Eagles coming into Friday’s game with one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Middle Tennessee in Grayson Trammel, the Tigers (1-1) once again knocked off a higher classified opponent with the 24-21 win for its second straight win over Shelbyville.
"We've just got to keep this same focus and continue to not take any opponents for granted," Tiger quarterback Malik Thomison, who led the Tigers with 103 rushing yards and leads the squad with 193 yards on the year, said. "I'm gaining a lot of confidence now. I feel comfortable back there, I trust my guys on my team and I'm just comfortable. Really comfortable."
After being a pass heavy offense the past two seasons, the Tigers are relying on a beefed up ground attack this season with Thomison throwing just 17 passes over the first two contests.
Luckily, the Tigers have not missed a beat with Thomison (103) and junior running back Javarria Rucker (101) both eclipsing the century mark against Shelbyville and utility man Dagon Stacey gaining 33 yards on the ground for two scores.
"We've worked so hard and we do so much during the off season that we're used to (run blocking)," Tiger senior center Austin Wright said. "We have such good defensive lineman that they train us well and get us ready to face these situations where we're running all the time. We're trained for this."
The defense was also expecting a big test from the Eagle offense as Tramel put up video game numbers in 2017 with 3,492 passing yards to lead the entire state to go along with 34 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.
Tramel also set a Tennessee state record with 606 yards in a 47-37 loss to Summit last season.
But the highly touted quarterback completed just 15 passes for a dismal 168 yards and two touchdowns with a long pass of only 22 yards against a vaunted Tiger defensive backfield.
"I thought they were going to throw it more than they did, actually," senior defensive back Marcellus Campbell, who leads the Tigers with 15 tackles after two games, said. "He didn't throw as many passing yards as I thought he would and I thought he would try and test me even though I had five interceptions last year because I'm little compared to his receivers but he didn't throw it at me at all."
The Shelbyville ground game did not fare much better against the Tiger front line and center defenders.
Leading rushing Caleb Marsh rushed for just 28 yards on 11 attempts a week after running for 214 yards on 22 carries in the Eagles win over Tullahoma the previous week.
Shelbyville also finished with 51 yards on the ground against the Tigers after churning out 213 yards versus Tullahoma.
"I think we did pretty good defensively, but we still could have executed a lot better as a team," junior Keylin Talley, who led the Tigers with a sack and two tackles, said. "Our coaches, coach Cobb and coach Pickle have a great defensive plan for us so we came in really confident and ready to play and ready to show them what's up."
Sophomore Christian Stacey led the Tigers with eight tackles and junior Kel Greer turned in a great all-around game with seven tackles, three quarterback hurries, half a sack, and caused a fumble recovered by Stacey late in the game to go along with 10 yards on the ground on one carry on the offensive side.
The Tiger unit held the Eagles to just 251 total yards against a team that put up over 30 points in eight games and 471 total yards in the season-opening win over Tullahoma.
But despite the close score, the Tigers held the momentum the entire contest.
The two squads went back and forth for the first few possessions before a 22-yard scamper by Rucker set up a one-yard plunge by Dagon Stacey for the first score of the game and a 7-0 lead after a Jon Estes extra point.
"Javarria got it and ran really hard and got us down to the two-yard line," Stacey recalled. "I think he was hurt a little bit because he's been injured a few times. So, coach put me in and I knew I had to get those couple yards, so I pushed in and got 'em."
The Eagles were able to even things up at the 5:22 mark in the second quarter after Tramel completed a 20-yard pass to Airius Trice before tacking on a roughing the passer penalty.
Marsh scored the tying touchdown from four yards out for the 7-7 tie.
The Tigers cashed in on a little luck on the blue and white side, being able to retain possession after a roughing the kicker penalty against Shelbyville on a Dagon Stacey punt on fourth down and finally a questionable pass interference call on the Eagles in the end zone with no time left on the clock before halftime.
The penalty allowed the Tigers field goal unit to set up with zero seconds on the clock and Jon Estes calmly booted a 33-yard field goal to give Marshall County a 10-7 lead at the break.
The Eagles briefly took the lead on a Tramel to Malachi Burns 22-yard touchdown strike with 2:31 remaining in the third period, but the final period belonged to the Tigers.
After fumbling at the end of a beautiful 15-yard run that put the Tigers within striking distance of a touchdown toward the end of the third quarter, Rucker knew if the opportunity arose again, he wanted to be the player to take the blue and white back down the field.
The junior running back would not have long to wait for the chance.
After regaining possession after a huge defensive stand by the Tigers, Rucker produced two long runs to get the Tigers back into the red zone trailing by three points.
"Whenever I made that fumble, it hurt me a little bit," Rucker said while patting his heart. "But I realized that my team still needed me so I put my team on my back.”
“Coach said I've got another chance, so I got in there and just did my job."
And like a mirror image of the first quarter sequence, after Rucker got the Tigers deep into scoring territory, Osteen called on Stacey to finish the job.
Needing just one yard to gain a first down, Stacey, bounced off the first wave of would-be tacklers, ran over another Eagle defender before taking the ball 11 yards into the end zone to give the Tigers the lead for good at 17-14.
"The hole was wide open so I just went through it and bumped off a guy," Stacey said. "And I saw an open edge so I knew right after that I had to get in."
The Eagles had a chance to tie the game at 17 on the next possession, but a 35-yard Dalton Corley field goal went wide left, giving the Tigers the opportunity to seal the deal.
And the Tigers did not waste the opportunity.
Facing a third and four at the 4:08 mark in the final quarter, Thomison rushed for eight yards for the first down before breaking off a 36-yard run to set up the final Tiger score of the night on an 11-yard Rucker run for a 24-14 lead with just 2:26 left in the game.
The Eagles kept things interesting after Tramel avoided a sure sack and scrambled out of the pocket to toss a short touchdown pass to Cale Swing to trim the lead to 24-21 with 1:22 left in the game but an onside kick was recovered by Stacey to end the game and give the Tigers its first win of the year.
The next plateau of the season starts this Friday in Lewisburg with a matchup against Tullahoma, who Shelbyville beat easily to start the season.
But Friday night’s game is a region game which puts a whole new level of importance on the contest for both teams.
"I feel like we keep improving every week and after this win, we'll start looking at more ways to improve and get better as a team," Stacey said. "We're looking forward to facing Tullahoma and getting a good region win."
Despite the opening loss to Shelbyville, Tullahoma (1-1) bounced back in a big way to beat 6A Coffee County (0-2) in the 92nd Annual Coffee Pot game.
The Wildcats only put up 223 yards of total offense, but held the Red Raiders to just 73 yards and five first downs, all of which came on Coffee County's final drive of the game against the Wildcats third-team defense.
Before the final drive, the Red Raiders clocked in at negative four yards on the game for an impressive defensive performance for the Wildcats.
After joining regions in 2015, the Tigers beat the Wildcats handily by the combined score of 96-7 in 2015 and 2016 before the Wildcats gave Marshall County a 42-35 scare in Tullahoma last season.
The Wildcats were one of the biggest turnarounds last season after going 0-20 the previous two seasons, finishing 5-5 and losing to the Tigers, Maplewood and Franklin County by just seven points each and to Nolensville by just 14.
So the Tigers realize that Tullahoma is not the yearly pushover they used to be.
"Last year they hung with us pretty good," Rucker remembered. "So we're going to respect them this year. We know that they're a pass team so we're going to be ready for that. It's the first region game so we're just going to have to be prepared and play hard."
Marshall County 0 10 0 14-24
Shelbyville 0 7 7 7-21
Marshall County-Javarria Rucker 1-yard run, John Estes PAT, 8:46.
Shelbyville Central-Caleb Marsh 2-yard run, Dalton Corley PAT, 5:22.
Marshall County-Estes 33-yard field goal, 0:00.
Shelbyville Central-Malachi Burns 22-yard pass from Grayson Tramel, Corley PAT 7:31.
Marshall County-Dagon Stacy 11-yard run, Estes PAT, 11:15.
Marshall County-Rucker 7-yard run, Estes PAT, 2:26.
Shelbyville Central-Cale Swing 12-yard pass from Tramel, Corley PAT, 1:22.
THE YARD STICK
3rd Down Conv. 3-of-9 3-of-10
|4th Down Conv. 2-of-2||1-of-2|
|Time of Poss.||31:13 16:47|
Marshall County Offense
Rushing-Malik Thomison 16-103, Javarria Rucker 16-100-TD, Dagon Stacey 11-33-2TD, Kel Greer 1-10, Christian Stacey 2-5.
Passing-Malik Thomison 2-6-8.
Receiving-Christian Stacey 1-12, Rucker 1-(-4).
PAT-John Estes 3-3
Kickoffs-Rucker 1-13, Dagon Stacey 1-7, Kel Greer 1-0, Boo Shirey 1-0.
Punts-Marcellus Campbell 3-2.
Tackles-Christian Stacey 8 (SACK, FUM REC), Kel Greer 7 (.5 SACK), Marcellus Campbell 5, Jayshon Wilcox 4 (.5 SACK), Boo Shirey 3, Dagon Stacey 2, Connor Hilton 2, Keylin Talley 2 (SACK), Austin Wright 2, Malik Thomison 1, Antonio Warren 1, Ak’y Howard (INT).