By ZACH BIRDSONG
The Tullahoma High School freshman football team put up points on its opening drive in the 50th Annual Semmes-McKenzie Lions Bowl and did not look back as it rolled to a 39-0 trouncing of Columbia Central on Thursday.
The victory capped off an undefeated regular season for the Wildcats as the team racked up an 8-0 record. Columbia finishes the season with a 4-4 record.
Wildcats’ quarterback Peyton Howard completed just six passes on the night, three of which reached the end zone for touchdowns. Howard totaled nine pass attempts for 162 yards.
Wide receivers John Moore and Race Marin combined to catch five passes as the duo caught all three touchdown passes. Marin reeled in two catches with 51 yards and two scores, while Moore had three receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Briasen Corn led a Tullahoma rushing attack that picked up 312 yards on the ground. Corn had 11 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown on the night. John Smith carried the ball four times for 70 yards.
After taking over from their own 41-yard line to start the game, it took just four plays for the Wildcats to reach the end zone. Howard connected with wide receiver Marin for an 11-yard touchdown with 9:02 left in the first quarter. Marin made the point after touchdown (PAT) kick to put Tullahoma in front 7-0.
Prior to the score, the big play came after Howard ran the ball on a keeper, rushing down the sideline for a 33-yard gain.
Columbia answered with an 83-yard drive, marching down to Tullahoma’s 2-yard line. However, the Lions turned the ball over for the first of four times on the night after running back Kobia Lloyd fumbled, and Wildcats’ linebacker Tommy McCullough was there for the recover at the 3-yard line.
After forcing Tullahoma to punt on back-to-back drives, Columbia again looked poised to get a score. After marching down to the Wildcats’ 16-yard line, quarterback Darien Davis completed a touchdown pass to wide receiver Trevor Crews, but an offensive passing interference call negated the play. The Lions turned the ball over on downs, giving THS possession at its 24-yard line.
Three plays later, the Wildcats reached pay dirt again. John Smith ran the ball twice for 31 yards before Howard hit Moore in stride for a 50-yard touchdown. Marin drilled the PAT kick to make it a 14-0 contest with 5:21 left in the second quarter.
While forcing Columbia to punt on back-to-back drives, the Wildcats had their next two drives end in turnovers. Howard fumbled an exchange with Corn on its next series. On the ensuing drive, Howard hit tight end Matthew Ross with a 47-yard pass, but Ross fumbled the ball at the 3-yard line, and Columbia recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
One play later though, Tullahoma got the ball back as Davis had his pass picked off by Moore, giving the Wildcats possession at Columbia’s 46-yard line. Howard connected with Marin on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 7.3 seconds left in the second quarter. Marin missed the PAT kick as THS headed into halftime with a 20-0 advantage.
Both teams traded possessions to start the second half, before Columbia put together a drive on its second series. After moving down to Tullahoma’s 34-yard line, Davis again was picked off as Wildcats’ defensive back Sam Brock intercepted a pass.
Tullahoma marched the ball 88 yards for a touchdown. Dylan Knight capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left in the third quarter. Marin again missed the PAT as Tullahoma led 26-0.
Prior to the big plays on the drive, Corn and Ross combined to rush for 80 yards on the drive. On the first play of the series, Corn broke loose for a 42-yard gain before Ross followed with a 38-yard run.
Columbia followed that with an offensive series that moved down to the Wildcats’ 21-yard line. Running back Khenneth Halums fumbled the ball and Tullahoma defensive end Corbin Smith recovered it at the 24-yard line.
The Wildcats answered with a score just six plays later. Corn ran 58 yards on the drive, including a 35-yard gallop on the first play of the drive, and capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. Marin made the PAT kick to make it a 33-0 contest.
After Columbia punted on its next series, Tullahoma put up the final points of the night. Smith ran for a 41-yard gain on the drive and then Brock capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown run on a keeper. Garrett Jennings came in to kick the PAT, but was unsuccessful, as Tullahoma led 39-0 with 4:18 left in the contest.
Columbia totaled 250 yards against the Wildcats, including rushing for 143 yards on the night. Halums led the team carrying the ball 14 times for 76 yards on the night.
Davis carried the ball 16 times and picked up 55 yards. Davis also completed nine of 17 passes for 107 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Lions Bowl featured a doubleheader as Tullahoma and Columbia Central took part in the second contest of the night. In the opener, Oakland dominated Christ Presbyterian Academy in a 50-18 victory.