LEWISBURG — The Marshall County Tigers scored touchdowns on six of their seven possessions while the defense made huge plays on two Creek Wood Red Hawk possessions in the red zone to preserve the shutout as the Tigers opened up their Region 5-4A schedule Friday night with a convincing 42-0 victory.
The Tigers (3-0, 1-0) couldn't have asked for a better start to gain the upper hand early. After the Marshall County defense forced the Red Hawks to punt on a three-and-out, Lamarion Pierce ran 53 yards to the house on the first play from scrimmage to put the Tigers on the board.
The extra point by Wyatt Joyce gave Marshall County a 7-0 lead with 9:43 left in the opening quarter.
Another three-and-out forced by the Marshall County defense gave the Tigers good field position at their own 42.
A 43-yard pass play from quarterback Devonte' Davis to Jayden Randolph moved Marshall County close. Demari Braden followed with a 1-yard run to increase the Tiger lead. The extra point by Joyce gave Marshall County a 14-0 advantage with 5:45 left.
"It rarely goes like you want it to, but we had a fast start on offense and a fast start on defense," Tiger coach Thomas Osteen.
"We got 14 points real quick and that put the momentum in our favor for most of the game."
The Red Hawks would put together their best drive of the night that lasted nearly eight minutes, but the Tiger defense met the challenge.
Creek Wood started from its own 20 and drove for three first downs as the first quarter ended.
The Red Hawks reached the eight-yard line after two more first downs to start the second quarter before the Tigers came up big.
On fourth down from the 13 after a penalty, Davis reached high to make a one-handed interception at the goal line to keep the Red Hawks at bay.
"Creek Wood won 10 games last year and has been a really good team for a long time," Osteen said. "They run a good option offense."
"We bent a few times but didn't break so just unreal plays from our defense," Osteen added.
A 21-yard pass play from Davis to Pierce highlighted the next Tiger possession as Marshall County knocked at the door for its next score.
A two-yard TD pass was nullified due to a penalty, but the Tigers were not deterred as Davis found Randolph from seven yards out on the next play to put Marshall County up 21-0.
The Tiger defense shined again as Pierce intercepted a Red Hawk pass to give Marshall County good field position in the closing seconds of the half.
A 24-yard run by Antomme Cowthorne paved the way for Davis to score from one yard out with 27 seconds left.
A failed extra point left the Tigers with a 27-0 halftime lead.
Creek Wood looked to gain the momentum after recovering an onside kick to start the second half.
Two first downs moved the Red Hawks to the Marshall County 22-yard line, but the Tigers made the big defensive play again as Grayson Miller recovered a Red Hawk fumble at the Marshall County 13.
The Tigers went three-and-out and failed to score on their next possession, but went back to work after starting at their own 40 after a Red Hawk punt.
Pierce appeared to be stopped after gaining yardage close to the Marshall County sideline, but escaped a host of Creek Wood defenders and scampered 55 yards for a Tiger touchdown as time expired in the third quarter.
A run for two by Kamron Dunnavant made up for the missed try earlier and gave Marshall County a 35-0 lead.
With a running clock, the fourth quarter went by quickly.
There was still time for Anthony Diaz to recover a Red Hawk fumble and give the Tigers one final possession.
Trice Gordon ran for 23 yards and then followed with a 21-yard run for the touchdown in the waning seconds to end the Marshall County scoring.
"We executed well and we've got a bunch of good people to get the ball to," Osteen said. "We want to play efficient and stay in front of the chains."
"I thought we were efficient tonight and had a bunch of key third down conversions," Osteen added. "Our experienced O-players created some explosive plays for us."
Not to be overlooked was the Tiger kicking game that gave Marshall County great field possession all night.
"All three phases were working together and the kicking game was a big part of that," Osteen said.
Marshall County continues its eight-game region schedule with a road game at Tullahoma Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.
"Tullahoma has been one of the best teams in the midstate for a couple of years now, so it's going to be all we can do to have a chance to win," Osteen said.
"But we're going to enjoy this one this weekend no doubt."
Creek Wood 0 0 0 0 — 0
Marshall Co. 14 13 8 7 — 42
MC – Lamarion Pierce 53 run, (Wyatt Joyce kick) 9:43.
MC – Demari Braden run, (Joyce kick) 5:45.
MC – Jayden Randolph 7 pass from Devonte' Davis, (Joyce kick) 3:52.
MC – Davis 1 run, (kick failed) 0:27.
MC – Pierce 55 run (Dunnavant 2pt. run) 0:00.
MC – Trice Gordon 21 run, (Joyce kick) 0:56.