Tullahoma hauls in four interceptions in 27-7 win
On a night where its offense struggled for consistency, Tullahoma’s defense stepped up, intercepting Spring Hill four times in the second half, including a pair of pick-sixes, en route to a 27-7 home win on Friday.
With the win, Tullahoma improves its overall record on the year to 4-1 and, more importantly, moves to 2-0 against Region 4-4A opponents. This is the first time since joining Region 4-4A that Tullahoma has won two region ballgames.
“This game was one of those where it was just a grind,” said THS Head Coach John Olive. “Spring Hill played extremely hard. We probably didn’t play our best and Spring Hill may have had something to do with that. It was one of those type of games where it’s good to be good enough to be able to grind it out.”
Offensively, Tullahoma put up 286 yards, the majority of those coming through the air. Quarterback Ben Fulton completed 12 of his 22 pass attempts on the night for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Race Marin, Hunter Palmer and Jake Hollandsworth became Fulton’s leading targets on the night. Palmer hauled in two catches for 85 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown in the second half.
Marin had four catches for 66 yards, while Hollandsworth had 17 yards on two catches, including the opening touchdown of the game, a 16-yard touchdown reception.
Briasen Corn also ran for 97 yards on 23 carries for the Wildcats. Brian Nelms had 10 yards on just one attempt on the night.
Spring Hill collected 206 yards on the night and struggled for yards early entering halftime with a total of 61 yards. The majority of the Raiders’ yards came on the ground, as quarterback Stanley Worstell struggled, completing three of his 20 pass attempts for 42 yards, while being intercepted three times.
Hadrian Phillips led the Spring Hill rush attack with 85 yards on 16 carries. However, it was Landen Secrest who helped the Raiders avoid a shutout, racing for a 55-yard touchdown with just over two minutes left in the contest.
Four different players intercepted passes for Tullahoma on the night. Jakobe Thomas, Kaleb Stroop, Payton Howard and Sam Brock all had picks for the Wildcats. Thomas and Brock were able to return theirs for touchdowns.
“Our defense is playing really, really well,” Olive said. “We give up a play or two here and there, but we are making a lot more plays than we are giving up. Our upfront guys put heat on their quarterback. In the secondary, we probably did drop some early, but we did grab some as well and that was important.”
After each team was struggling to sustain drives early in the contest, Tullahoma broke onto the scoreboard with 5:34 left in the second quarter. Fulton was able to hit Hollandsworth for a 16-yard touchdown and Matt Marcel booted in the extra point, putting Tullahoma in front 7-0.
That advantage stuck until early in the second half when Thomas added another score for the Wildcats. Thomas was able to intercept Worstell’s pass, racing home 25 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was bobbled and no good as Tullahoma led 13-0 with 8:13 remaining in the third quarter.
“He [Jakobe] makes the interception and returns it for a touchdown, which was a major touchdown for us,” Olive said.
The following drive saw Tullahoma come away with another interception as Stroop picked off another one of Worstell’s throws. However, the Wildcats’ offensive drive stalled there as Spring Hill regained control at its 36-yard line.
After trading possessions, Tullahoma fumbled the ball away as Raiders recovered at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line. Spring Hill looked poised to score as well, driving down to Tullahoma’s 2-yard line on the final play of the third quarter.
Back-to-back penalties ruined the Raiders’ chance of scoring to cut it to a one-score game. An illegal formation penalty negated a 2-yard touchdown run by Phillips, before a delay of game penalty backed Spring Hill up to the Wildcats’ 12-yard line.
Two plays later, Worstell threw his third pick of the game as Howard intercepted the ball and the Wildcats took over at its 7-yard line.
Later in the fourth quarter, Tullahoma added to its lead with another offensive score with a quick two-play drive. Fulton was able to hit Hunter Palmer who broke free for a 67-yard touchdown down the left side of the field, giving his team a 20-0 advantage with 3:23 left in the fourth quarter.
“[Spring Hill] probably did some things that took us by surprise [on the offensive end],” Olive said. “Especially with our young linemen, we struggled with some of their stunts. The biggest thing was, we just needed to simplify plays, which we did there at the end and Hunter Palmer takes a simple screen pass, where he got great blocking on the outside by our outside receiver, and he takes it to the house.
“I’ll take the blame. I didn’t do a very good job getting us ready to play this week [offensively]. I didn’t do a real good job of making adjustments tonight. So we were going to be really aggressive. In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have been so aggressive to start.”
Brock added the Wildcats’ final points of the night, blocking and intercepting a pass attempt by Luka Boylan, racing 29 yards for the touchdown. Marcel, who knocked in his final two extra-point attempts, giving Tullahoma a 27-0 advantage with 3:01 remaining on the clock.
Spring Hill wouldn’t be denied points as Secrest raced 55 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 2:01 remaining in the contest, making the score 27-7. Tullahoma was able to drain the clock on its next offensive series, securing the win.
Tullahoma (4-1, 2-0) will step out of Region 4-4A and travel to Fayetteville to face Lincoln County on Friday at 7 p.m. The Falcons (2-2, 1-1) are coming off of a 41-13 loss to Shelbyville this week.