Tigers hammer Stone Memorial, host DeKalb County in round two
For the second season in a row, the Marshall County Tigers opened up the TSSAA 4A state playoffs against the Stone Memorial Panthers out of Crossville.
Unlike last yearís matchup, which was decided in overtime on a game winning two-point conversion by the Tigers (9-2), Marshall County won the 2019 contest going away by a score of 39-8.
The seventh-ranked Tigers host second-seeded DeKalb County (7-4) from Smithville, who beat third-seeded Tullahoma (7-4) 45-34 in Friday nightís second round contest at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg.
"All wins are big, but anytime you can win a home playoff game itís definitely special," Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said. "We did not play as clean a game as we wanted to, especially in the first half, but give big credit to Stone Memorial for making it hard on us and giving us a big time challenge."
"They were really very similar to the team we played last year," Osteen added. "They just did not have the dynamic player at quarterback that they had last year."
The first half was closer than expected with Marshall County holding a slight 10-0 at the break before senior running back Kel Greer exploded for three, third quarter touchdowns to blow the game wide-open and the Tigers cruised to the win.
"I think we were a play or two away from breaking the game open in the first half," Osteen said. "We had a couple key drops and a fumble deep in their territory that really hurt us."
"We must have greater urgency to execute at a high level at every moment," Osteen continued. "But I was very happy with finding a way to overcome the adversity that we faced at the half, even on a night when we no doubt did not have our ĎAí game."
Sophomore quarterback Bryson Hammons led the Tigers with another above average outing, finishing the game with 167 yards and two scores and one interception in his first playoff outing as the full-time starter.
"Starting my first playoff game and coming out with a win is very exciting," Hammons, who now has 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions on the year, said. "We started pretty slow as a team, but came out after halftime, made some adjustments, and played our game."
Greer finished the game with 86 yards to go along with three scores and Connor Hilton added 25 yards on three carries.
Devon Wilson led the Tigers with five catches for 96 yards and A'Ky Howard added three catches for 24 yards.
Andrew Gold and Hunter Rolof both picked up a touchdown catch.
Jon Estes continued his dream season with a 37-yard field goal for his 13 make out of 14 attempts in 2019.
Hayden Sheppard led the Tigers with a remarkable 14 tackles and Christian Stacey was close behind with 13 stops, while Rolof added a season-high 11 tackles and Tez Allen finished with seven tackles and four stops.
Andrew Gold caught his twelfth pass of the season and second score of the 2019 campaign with 8:30 left in the first quarter for an early 7-0 lead.
Neither team scored again until Estes knocked down a 37-yard field goal late in the second quarter and the Tigers went to the locker room with a not too close for comfort 10-0 edge.
But the home team wasted little time flexing its muscles in the second half.
The Marshall County spurt started with a Hilton blocked punt into the back of the end zone for the 12-0 advantage before Greer scored his first touchdown on a short field after the Panther kickoff.
The Tigers regained possession just a play later after Lamarion Pearce picked off a Panther pass and returned it to the 10-yard line before Greer found the end zone on the next play and just five minutes into the third quarter, the Marshall County lead had ballooned to 27-0.
The onslaught continued after a Stone Memorial three-and-out resulted in an errant punt which traveled negative one yard.
With another short field, the Tigers stuck with Greer and the senior running back continued to reward the confidence with a 10-yard score and a 33-0 lead.
Another Panther three-and-out led to the 29th Tiger point scored in the frame as Hammons hooked up with Rolof for a 25-yard score for a 39-0 advantage.
The catch from Rolof was the junior receiver's third touchdown catch of the season on just four receptions.
"Rolof is a big target and does a good job getting downfield as he gets the ball," Hammons pointed out. "Just being able to have a big body in the end zone makes it easier for me to get him the ball in those tight situations."
Stone Memorial went on to score one touchdown when the Tiger reserves had taken over on the field, but Marshall County would ultimately go on to the surprisingly easy 39-8 win and move to the second round of the playoffs for the six straight season.
Now the Tigers turn their attention to the Tigers from DeKalb County.
"DeKalb is a completely different team from the first half of the season," Osteen observed. "They are very big and physical on both fronts. They pushed a very good Tullahoma defense around in a big way last Friday."
"They also have the best quarterback that we have faced all year," Osteen added. "He has electric arm talent and is a gifted runner as well. It will be a huge challenge for us to slow their spread offense down."
The Tigers opened up the 2017 playoffs against fourth-seeded DeKalb County, who limped into the postseason with a 3-7 record before Marshall County pitched a 42-0 shutout en route to a third-straight 4A semifinal appearance, falling 49-24 to eventual state champion Greeneville.
DeKalb County beat Stone Memorial 33-0 in the regular season and earned the number two seed in region 3-4A with a 3-1 conference record with only a 31-0 loss to sixth-ranked Livingston Academy in region play.
DeKalb County comes into Lewisburg on a four-game winning streak and winners of six out of its last seven games.
"We need to have a good four days of practice this week with good energy," Hammons said. "Watching extra game film this week and knowing what they're gonna do in most situations will help us have a better head start on them."
Stone Memorial 0 0 0 8-8
Marshall County 7 3 29 0-39
Marshall County Offense
Total Yards (303): Rushing 136, Passing 167.
Rushing: Kel Greer 14-86-3TD, Connor Hilton 3-25, Bryson Hammons 5-10, Trey Warner 1-7, Devon Wilson 1-5, Demari Braden 3-3.
Passing: Bryson Hammons 14-22-167-2TD-INT.
Receiving: Devon Wilson 5-96, Hunter Rolof 2-30-TD, AíKy Howard 3-24, Andrew Gold 1-10-TD, Kel Greer 3-7.
PAT: Jon Estes 2-3.
Field Goals: 1-1-37.
Kickoffs: Jon Estes 7-393-2TB.
Kickoffs: Devon Wilson 2-23.
Punts: Devon Wilson 1-36.
Tackles: Hayden Sheppard 14 (TFL), Christian Stacey 13, Hunter Rolof 11, Chandler Davis 8, Rigkyous Summers 7 (2-pt. conversion), Andrew Gold 7, Tez Allen 7 (4 TFL), Connor Hilton 6 (Blocked punt, SAFETY), Keylin Talley 4, Kortez Ingram 3, Devon Wilson 2, Logan McKnight 2 (TFL), Isaac Brinkley 1, Jon Estes 1, Kamron Dunnavant 1.