It was a home opener to forget for Tullahoma on Thursday, as nothing in the first half – specifically the first quarter – seemed to go the Wildcats’ way.
Marshall County took advantage, racing out to a 20-0 advantage in the first period, before taking a 23-0 halftime lead. The Tigers went on to add another touchdown, before Tullahoma got on the board, losing 30-6 at home on Thursday night.
“Not to take anything away from Marshall County, because they made plays ... but we killed ourselves,” said THS Head Coach John Olive. “We played about as poorly as we could play in the first half. We made mistake after mistake after mistake and it was because our young men had some guts about them, that it was 23-0 at halftime, instead of 49-0.”
Tullahoma’s defense was the unit who kept Thursday’s game from totally becoming a laugher. The Tigers generated 220 offensive yards on the night, led by quarterback Bryson Hammons who passed for 138 yards and a touchdown.
In fact, it was a special teams play which allowed Marshall County to grab early control on Thursday. After forcing Tullahoma to a quick three-and-out, the Wildcats punted the ball away to Devon Wilson.
On the return, the Tigers’ wide receiver was able to dodge Wildcat defenders, racing for a 65-yard touchdown with 9:07 remaining in the first quarter. Jon Estes connected on the extra-point attempt, giving Marshall County a 7-0 advantage.
Tullahoma committed the first of three turnovers on its very next offensive play. Quarterback Ben Fulton had his pass intercepted by Tigers’ cornerback Andrew Gold, giving Marshall County possession at the Wildcats’ 27-yard line.
After the Tigers marched down to the Wildcats’ 2-yard line, they were flagged for a false start. Marshall County was forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal try, which Estes connected, giving his team a 10-0 lead with 6:39 left in the opening period.
Tullahoma was once again forced into a three-and-out. Marshall County on the other hand, was able to pad its lead with a quick two-play drive.
On second down, Hammons was able to connect with Javarria Rucker for a 66-yard touchdown. Estes again made the extra-point kick, giving the Tigers a 17-0 advantage with 4:46 remaining in the first quarter.
Marshall County added one more score before the first quarter ended off of a Tullahoma mistake. On fourth down, the Wildcats were getting set to punt the ball away. However, the snap sailed over punter Will Stone’s head, and he fell on top of the football at his team’s own 10-yard line.
The Tigers’ offense stalled at the Wildcats’ 8-yard line. Estes then came in and drilled a 25-yard field goal, upping Marshall County’s lead to 20-0 with 46 seconds left in the first period.
Just before halftime, Estes once again connected on a field goal try. After the Tigers’ offense stalled in the red zone, Estes came in and made a 28-yard field goal attempt with 39 seconds left in the second quarter. Marshall County carried that 23-0 lead into halftime.
Out of the break, Tullahoma’s offense picked up a first down. However, running back Brian Nelms fumbled on third down, and the Tigers took over from the Wildcats’ 42-yard line.
Ten plays later, Marshall County put up its final touchdown of the night. Rucker again broke the plane for the Tigers, this time rushing for a 1-yard touchdown with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter. Estes again drilled the extra point, giving his team a 30-0 lead.
Rucker finished with his two touchdowns on the night for Marshall County, reeling in two catches for 69 yards. He also ran for 10 yards on 10 carries.
Kel Greer was the Tigers’ leading rusher on the night. Greer picked up 72 yards on 18 carries.
Less than three minutes later after Rucker scored his final touchdown, Tullahoma added the final points on Thursday night. On fourth down, Fulton was able to connect with Quintin Howard on a 26-yard touchdown with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats elected to go for a 2-point attempt, but were unsuccessful. On the try, the snap sailed over Fulton’s head where he was forced to fall on the ball, making the score 30-6.
The Wildcats totaled 184 yards of offense against Marshall County, 128 of those coming through the air. Fulton completed 10 of his 20 pass attempts for 121 yards, while being intercepted once. Backup quarterback Ryan Scott was able to complete one of his four pass tries for 7 yards, while being intercepted once.
Nelms was Tullahoma’s leading rusher on the night, picking up 49 yards on 13 carries. Jakobe Thomas also ran for 44 yards on seven carries, while also catching four passes for 29 yards.
Following Thursday night’s game, Tullahoma (1-2, 0-1) is next scheduled to host Franklin County on Friday night. The Rebels were slated to travel to Lincoln County on Friday night. However, as of press time, the result of that game was unavailable.
Kickoff for this Friday night’s game at Wilkins Stadium in Tullahoma is scheduled for 7 p.m.