Ex-Tiger Wallace sinks Marshall County
Week in and week out during the 2018 football season, Marshall County has played the best football teams the mid-state has to offer and coming into Friday night’s matchup against longtime rival Giles County (4-3) a banged up Tiger squad took the field at Pulaski.
But despite an ever-depleting roster, Marshall County (2-5) took a 7-0 lead into the break before securing a 23-16 advantage with 6:52 left in the contest before former Tiger quarterback Bryce Wallace led the game winning drive to put the Bobcats up 24-23 with 4:27 left which would ultimately be the final.
"Right now we have a bunch of guys hurting, it's our biggest rival and all the extra you would put into a high school game," Tiger coach Thomas Osteen said. "I don't know if you could have more story lines to put into a game than this one."
"But at the end of the day it's football and two teams left it all out on the field and Giles County made one more play than we did," Osteen added. "So hats off to them."
Junior running back Javarria Rucker continued a monster junior season with 122 yards and a score on just 11 attempts on the ground and Elijah Taylor added to his dominance over Lawrence County the previous week with 67 yards on the ground on 13 tries and a catch for nine yards and Kel Greer added to the ground attack with 24 yards on four carries plus a score.
Marcellus Campbell added 71 yards on one reception and a score with A'Ky Howard chipped in a catch for nine yards.
Quarterback Malik Thomison finished 3-for-9 for 89 yards and a touchdown throw from under center.
"We executed good on offense for the most part," Howard said. "First drive we came out and pounded the ball 98 yards and I thought, alright we're looking good."
"But then we got to the second half, we played good in both quarters but kind of let Giles County run all over us in the final minutes."
The Tigers had a prime opportunity to take early control of the contest, driving down to the six-yard line but on fourth and goal, the decision was made to go for the first down instead of kicking the chip shot field goal and the Bobcat defense held strong to keep the game at 0-0.
The two defenses battled back and forth until Rucker finally broke the stalemate with a 56-yard touchdown run for the 7-0 Tiger lead that would hold until intermission.
"We came out with a lot of energy, we had a good game plan going in," Christian Stacey explained. "We knew what they were going to start out with and we executed really well to stop that in the first half."
The Tiger lead did not last very long in the third quarter as a scrambling Wallace hit Dre Garrett for a 38-yard touchdown strike and Wallace subsequently slid past the Tiger defensive front into the corner of the end zone for the successful two-point conversion and the 8-7 lead with 9:02 remaining in the third period.
The game turned ugly on the next series of events as the Tigers penned the Bobcats deep in its own territory on a punt and Marshall County reaped the rewards of sloppy ball protection by forcing a Giles County fumble on the next play to set up the offense on the six-yard line.
Unfortunately, prime field position quickly escaped the Tigers as Taylor fumbled the ball on the ensuing play to give possession right back to Giles County.
The Bobcats started driving down the field, but after an Eric Cannon fumble on the third straight possession the Tigers finally capitalized.
Following two long runs by Rucker and two power runs from Taylor, Kel Greer finally gave the Tigers back the lead on a 13-yard scamper into the end zone and claimed a 15-8 lead following a Rucker two-point conversion run.
The Bobcats needed just over three minutes to reclaim the lead as Wallace hit Dre Garrett for 38 yards and followed the touchdown pass with another scamper around the right side for the two-point conversion and the slight 16-15 advantage.
Thomison wowed the crowd on the first play of the next Tiger possession as the senior gunslinger aired out the pass to fellow senior Marcellus Campbell, who pulled down the catch and made several defenders miss before turning on the after burners and racing 71 yards for the score.
Taylor added two-point conversion, handing the lead back to the blue and white with just 6:52 left in the contest.
Unfortunately, the final scoring drive on the night belonged to the Bobcats and Wallace as he both ran the touchdown score and subsequent score to give the Bobcats the 24-23 lead for good.
"The game plan was to stop number two (K.J. Zeigler) and Bryce (Wallace) because we knew they were pretty good ball players," defensive back Keshun Gentry recalled. "We kind of let some other people we didn't think we’re going to be too big of factors and score and that hurt us a little bit in the end."
Although the loss to Giles County is certainly one that stuck the players, coach, cheerleaders, band and each and every Marshall County fan in the stands, the bright side is Giles County is no longer a region opponent.
The Tigers need to win the coming up region matchup with a usually strong Spring Hill (0-7, 0-3).
A win over the Raiders will put the Tigers in the playoffs and the final game of the season with Nolensville (5-3, 2-1) should be a battle for the third and fourth seeds in the TSSAA playoffs.
And despite Spring Hill's winless record, the Raiders have had close losses to 5A Summit (4-3) 12-7 and 5A Columbia (3-4) 31-28.
"Obviously we've got to have a win if we're going to be in the playoffs," Stacey pointed out. "I feel like we're going to come back with a lot of energy and focus and we'll try and bounce back this Friday night."
The Tigers travel to Spring Hill on Friday before coming back home for matchup with 6A power Brentwood and ending the season versus Nolensville on the road.
Marshall County 0 7 0 16-23
Giles County 0 0 8 16-24
Total Yards: Marshall County 323, Giles County 435.
Rushing: Marshall County 234, Giles County 216.
Passing: Marshall County 89, Giles County 219.
Marshall County Offense
Rushing: Javarria Rucker 11-122-TD, Elijah Taylor 13-67, Malik Thomison 10-21, Kel Greer 4-24-TD.
Passing: Malik Thomison 3-9-89-TD.
Receiving: Marcellus Campbell 1-71-TD, Ak’y Howard 1-9, Elijah Taylor 1-9.
PAT: John Estes 1-1.
Punting: Joseph Gold 2-78.
Kickoffs: Kaden Whitson 2-35, Javarria Rucker 1-11.