CHARLOTTE — The good thing about ugly wins, they count as much as the pretty ones.On a night with several untimely penalties and a pair of crushing turnovers, the Marshall County Tigers (3-0, …
CHARLOTTE — The good thing about ugly wins, they count as much as the pretty ones.
On a night with several untimely penalties and a pair of crushing turnovers, the Marshall County Tigers (3-0, 1-0) were able to overcome all the adversity and lands its first Region 5-AAAA win of the season, fending off Creek Wood, 17-14.
“We faced a bunch of adversity tonight and that’s how it goes sometimes. On the road, playing a tough opponent in Creek Wood—they’re a playoff caliber team. We faced adversity from the very start but I’m happy we overcame it,” Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said.
Creek Wood’s game plan was simple: run the ball, move the chains and play keep away from the Tigers.
The plan worked noticeably well in the first half with Marshall County getting just three offensive possessions in the first two quarters.
Creek Wood (1-2, 0-1) took the game’s opening possession and was able to push the ball near its own 40-yard line, but Red Hawk quarterback Eathon Donaldson was sacked for an eight-yard loss on fourth down, which forced a punt.
On the punt attempt, the Tigers were able to tip the ball and recovered possession on the Red Hawk 39-yard line.
Working with a short field, the Tigers capped the three-minute drive on a five-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Silas Teat to Marcus O’Neal.
Creek Wood forced a three and out on the second Tiger possession of the night and put together another five-plus minute drive, aided by a handful of Tiger penalties.
The drive was capped off by a Jayden Elliott one-yard toss sweep that tied the game at seven after the successful kick after.
With just over five minutes to go in the half, the Tigers took possession for just the third time of the night after sophomore Aja Jones returned the ball to the Red Hawk 46.
Antomme Cowthorn finished the drive and once again gave the Tigers the lead on a two-yard dive into the end zone with 2:06 to go.
Cowthorn led the Tigers’ ground attack with 46 yards and 18 carries to go along with his second-quarter touchdown.
“I’m so proud of him. We knew he was going to be a good football player for a long time. He’s kind of filled in a different roles. He thought he was going to be more of a receiver, and he still plays some receiver for us, but he played running back, he played corner. Really, he’s as responsible for this win tonight as anyone,” Osteen said.
Creek Wood took the following kickoff and working with a short clock, pushed to the red zone and attempted a pass to the end zone as time expired, which was intercepted by senior linebacker Montai Vaughn to end the half.
Hoping to take advantage on the first possession of the second half, it was Creek Wood who seized the game’s momentum off an interception with 9:21 left in the game and put together another clock-milking drive that finished with a game-tying touchdown by Jamison Ford on a two-yard reception with 2:02 to go in the period.
It wasn’t until Tiger kicker Wyatt Joyce connected on a 43-yard field goal that split the uprights with 9:39 to go in the game that Marshall County regained the lead—a lead they would hang onto until the final buzzer.
“We’re tickled to death we have an all-state kicker on our team. He makes those in practice all the time. I looked at him right before the kick and he said “I’ve got it coach,” and that was all I needed to see,” Osteen said.
After forcing a punt with just under seven minutes to go, Marshall County was able to successfully move the ball well into the Red Hawk’s side of the field, but a second turnover of the night struck the Tigers at the most inopportune time, giving the ball back to Creek Wood on its own 23-yard line with 2:31 left on the clock.
This time, it was Marshall County’s defense that, for the first time of the night, didn’t allow the Red Hawks to move the chains and forced a turnover on downs thanks to a key pass breakup on fourth down by Cowthorn to force the turnover on downs.
For the bulk of the game, Creek Wood’s offense was managed by its two-headed monster out of the backfield with quarterback Eathon Donaldson and tailback Dada Sweatt.
“They had two good runners and a big o-line to go with it. I felt like we were maybe a play away from breaking it open in the first half, but we would have a penalty or a negative play to keep us off schedule. Hats off to Creek Wood for playing a great game tonight,” Osteen said.
Teat completed 16 of 21 passing attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Jones made five grabs for 44 yards, highlighted by a 34-yard pick up to set up Cowthorn’s second-quarter touchdown.
While Jones represented the downfield threat in the Tigers’ air game, it was junior Jayden Randolph who was the “move-the-chains” receiver, making six catches for 63 yards, four of which went for first downs.
“It was a big night for Jayden. Every yard was tough tonight. He made some tough catches. He’s so good over the middle of the field, weaving his way through traffic and making tough, contested catches. Really proud of Jayden Randolph” Osteen said.
With the first region victory out of the way, Marshall County now turns its focus to defending state champion Tullahoma.
The Wildcats currently have a three-game win-streak over the Tigers, with Marshall County’s last victory over Tullahoma coming in a 30-6 win in 2019.
With Friday night’s region match-up being one the coaching staff, players and fans have all circled, Osteen said his team knows what’s at stake.
“You want to approach each week like it’s the same, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t something extra. Tullahoma has been the best in our region the last couple years. Our guys know how tough that game’s been the past couple of years. It’s not going to take much to get our kids motivated this coming week,” he said.
Tullahoma (1-1) sat idle in Week 3, but will travel to Lewisburg to take on the Tigers on Friday night at Preston Hopkins field.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Marshall Co. 7 7 0 3 — 17
Creek Wood 0 7 7 0 — 14
M — Marcus O’Neal 5 pass from Silas Teat, (Wyatt Joyce kick), 3:37.
C — Jayden Elliott 1 run, (Ty Miller kick), 5:06.
M — Antomme Cowthorn 2 run, (Joyce kick), 2:06.
C — Jamison Ford 2 pass from Eathon Donaldson, (Miller kick), 2:02.
M — Wyatt Joyce 43 field goal, 9:39.
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