After notching its first win of the season last week, Tullahoma will try to make it two victories in a row when it welcomes Marshall County to Wilkins Stadium in its home opener on Thursday.
It won’t be an easy test for the Wildcats (1-1) as the Tigers head into Thursday night with a 2-0 record. On top of that, Marshall County will be looking for a little revenge over its Region 4-4A foe.
Last year, the Wildcats went over to Lewisburg and beat the Tigers 14-13 in a thrilling game. In November, the two teams collided again, this time in the playoffs in Tullahoma. The Wildcats were able to secure a 16-14 win in another tightly-contested matchup.
So far this season, the Tigers have been off to a dominant start. Marshall County opened the season with a 41-7 victory at Columbia Academy, before following that with a 31-14 home win over Lincoln County.
On offense, Marshall County has been led by its ground game, as the Tigers have averaged 214 rushing yards per contest. Leading the way has been senior tailback Javarria Rucker, who has picked up 258 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Senior running back Kel Greer has also added four touchdowns on the year, running for 162 yards on 28 attempts.
Behind center, Marshall County’s offense is helmed by Bryson Hammons. In two games, Hammons has completed 25 of his 37 pass attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns, while being intercepted once.
Rucker has been Hammon’s leading target this season, hauling in nine catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. A’Ky Howard has also added four catches for 90 yards and a score, while Devon Wilson has six catches for 60 yards.
On the defensive front, Tullahoma has done a good job of shutting down opponent’s passing game. In two combined games, the Wildcats have surrendered just 87 passing yards.
In the season opener, a 14-7 loss at Shelbyville, Tullahoma held the Golden Eagles to just 59 yards passing. At Coffee County last week, in a 35-0 victory, the Wildcats limited the Red Raiders to just 28 passing yards and intercepted a pass, as Cooper Lawson came away with a pick.
While looking particularly solid against the pass attack, Tullahoma has also done a good job of bottling up the rush attack. In its two combined games, the Wildcats have allowed a total of 290 yards, an average of 145 yards per contest, 102 of which have come on the ground.
Shelbyville rushed for 152 yards against Tullahoma, while Coffee County put up 51 yards on the ground. The Wildcats also forced a fumble against the Golden Eagles, as linebacker Jacob Floyd knocked the ball loose and recovered possession.
On offense, Tullahoma has been led by its passing attack. In two games, quarterback Ben Fulton has thrown for 401 yards and three touchdowns, while being intercepted once. Fulton has completed 62 percent of his passes, completing 28 of his 45 intended targets.
Fulton’s leading target has been Hunter Palmer, who has reeled in eight catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. His lone score came on a 70-yard game-tying play at Shelbyville during week one of the season.
Jakobe Thomas has also brought in seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, scoring once against Coffee County. Jake Hollandsworth has six catches for 64 yards, while Hunter Jewell has four receptions for 49 yards.
After picking up just 47 rushing yards against Shelbyville, Tullahoma got the run game going at Coffee County last week, rushing for 296 yards in the victory. Brian Nelms had 132 of those yards, while backup quarterback Ryan Scott had 58 rushing yards and Thomas ran for 47 yards.
Nelms has been Tullahoma’s leading rusher this year, carrying the ball 22 times for 160 yards. Devlon McGee has added 35 yards on 14 carries, including a 3-yard score against the Red Raiders last week.
In its two wins this year, Marshall County has also been aggressive on the defensive end, including limiting Columbia Academy to 167 yards in the season opener. The Tigers have also created turnovers, recovering three fumbles, while picking off a pass.
Kaden Whitson intercepted a pass against Columbia Academy for Marshall County. Christian Stacey, Logan McKnight and Keylin Talley all have a fumble recovery for the Tigers.
Kickoff for Thursday night’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. For those who can’t make it to the contest, it will be broadcast on The Rooster 101.5 FM in Tullahoma.
The News will also be providing live scoring updates on social media. Like The Tullahoma News’ Sports Page on Facebook or follow Sports Editor Zach Birdsong, on Twitter @ZachBirdsong to receive those updates.