Tigers fall to Tullahoma in home opener
The Marshall County Tigers hosted Region 4-4A foe Tullahoma Friday night at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg for the home opener and things didn’t go as planned as the Wildcats broke a three-game losing streak versus MCHS with a hard-fought 14-13 win that went down to the last play.
“No doubt a loss that stings badly, especially one of such importance being a region game,” MCHS coach Thomas Osteen said. “For whatever reason we came out flat as opposed to the fire that we played with in our first two contests.”
That wasn’t the only streak broken by the Wildcats as the loss was the first in region play for the Tigers since 2014.
“That's a streak that we are really proud of not losing a region game in over three years, so it tells of the importance and preparation that we try and put into these games,” Osteen said. “Hopefully that speaks to the consistency that we have had as a program.”
Tullahoma scored on its first possession of the game when Ben Fulton tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Briasen Corn with 8:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The PAT was no good and there was no more first half scoring as the Tigers were unable to put points on the board from inside the Tullahoma 20-yard line late in the first half when a holding call backed MCHS out of scoring position.
“I feel like we are playing well enough to compete verse anybody, however we are not executing at a high enough level in all three phases of the game to make up for the small margin for error that we have,” Osteen said.
The Tigers fumbled the ball away on their first possession of the second half, but the defense came up with a huge stop and the Tigers capitalized, marching 40 yards on just five plays, capped off by a Javarria Rucker 19-yard touchdown scamper. John Estes booted the PAT to put MCHS up 7-6 with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
Tullahoma answered at the 10:59 mark of the third quarter when Kobe Burks rushed for a 2-yard score and the Wildcats added a 2-point conversion pass to make it 14-7.
Rucker, who has rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns for the season, scored his second TD of the contest when he rumbled 14 yards for a score, but Estes missed the PAT attempt and Tullahoma led 14-13 lead with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter.
“Javarria has done a lot of good things with the ball in his hands as he gives us someone who can score with the ball in his hands,” Osteen said. “He would be the first to tell you that he has to improve his ball security if he is going to be a complete back and take his game to the next level.”
Tullahoma drove back down the field with hopes of putting the game away, but another defensive stand by the Tigers gave MCHS one last chance from their own 16-yard line with 1:40 remaining in the ballgame.
The Tigers drove to the Wildcats’ 46-yard line and after a timeout with 30 ticks left in the contest, Tullahoma safety Kaleb Stroop came up with a game-ending interception.
“It’s been a bitter pill to swallow, but we have a decision to make,” Osteen stated. “Are we going to let this game define our season, or are we going to commit ourselves to getting better each day and becoming more disciplined and determined in all that we do.”
The Tigers (1-2, 0-1) have a bye this week before taking the field on Friday, September 14 when they host Maplewood (2-1, 1-0) in another region bout.
The Tigers are 4-1 versus the Panthers since 2010, including a close 29-22 win last season at Preston Hopkins Field.
Tullahoma 6 0 0 8-14
Marshall County 0 0 7 6-13
Tullahoma-Tullahoma -Ben Fulton 33-yard pass to Briasen Corn, PAT NG, 8:46.
Marshall County-Javarria Rucker 19-yard run, Johns Estes PAT, 5:07.
Tullahoma-Kobe Burks 2-yard run, Fulton pass to Hunter Palmer for a 2-Pt Conversion, 10:59.
Marshall County- Rucker with a 14-yard run, PAT NG, 5:49.
Total Yards: Tullahoma 249, Marshall County 270.
Rushing: Tullahoma 158, Marshall County 213.
Passing: Tullahoma 91, Marshall County 57.
Marshall County Offense
Rushing: Javarria Rucker 17-98-2TD, Malik Thomison 9-57, Kel Greer 7-27, Dagon Stacey 3-14, Andrew Gold 3-6, Christian Stacey 1-1.
Passing: Thomison 9-14-57-INT.
Receiving: Rucker 3-30, Dagon Stacey 1-14, Marcellus Campbell 2-8, Christian Stacey 1-5, Hunter Rolof 1-1, A’Ky Howard 1-(-1).
PAT: John Estes 1-2.
Kickoffs: John Estes 3-81.
Punting: Dagon Stacey 3-104.
Kickoffs: Riqkyous Summers 1-11, Gold 2-0.
Punts: Campbell 2-0.