If the last two regular-season matchups against Marshall County have taught fans anything, it’s that Friday night’s game could be something special, as Tullahoma gets set to host the Tigers in the second round of the TSSAA Playoffs.
In the 2017 matchup, the Tigers trailed the majority of the contest, but rallied for a 42-35 win in Tullahoma. Earlier this season, the Wildcats got a little revenge, edging Marshall County 14-13 in Lewisburg on Aug. 31.
After notching their first playoff win since 2012, and then getting some help from the team that it’s about to face, Tullahoma will host Marshall County on Friday at 7 p.m.
Despite 23 penalties, resulting in 216 yards lost against Livingston Academy last week, Tullahoma (9-2) was able to overcome those mistakes, going on to secure the 37-23 victory. Livingston Academy rallied in the third quarter, tying the contest at 23, but Tullahoma answered with a pair of fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns, one by running back Briasen Corn and the other by quarterback Ben Fulton.
In Crossville, Marshall County led for the majority of the contest last week, but Stone Memorial rallied, evening the score at 22, forcing overtime. The Panthers scored first, grabbing a 29-22 edge.
However, Marshall County answered back with a touchdown. Rather than attempt another extra-point kick, the Tigers went for 2 and successfully converted that attempt, as Javarria Rucker scored to give his team a 30-29 victory.
Rucker had three touchdowns in the win, carrying the ball 32 times for 181 yards, including scoring a touchdown in overtime. After Marshall County had a second-and-goal situation from the Panthers’ 40-yard line, Rucker rushed for 28 yards and eventually scored on a short fourth-down plunge.
The majority of the Tigers’ yardage came on the ground after quarterback Malik Thomison passed for just 90 yards on the night. Thomison completed six of his 10 pass attempts for a touchdown, while being intercepted once.
On the season, Thomison has completed 56 percent of his passes, as 62 of his 110 attempts have been on target, for 807 yards and seven touchdowns, while being intercepted three times. The senior quarterback has also rushed for 445 yards and 113 carries and two touchdowns.
Rucker leads the team in rushing on the year, carrying the ball 147 times for 816 yards and 11 touchdowns. Elijah Taylor also has 77 carries for 243 yards and three scores.
In Tullahoma on Friday night, the THS found itself tied at 23 when the third quarter ended. Corn rushed for a 4-yard touchdown, giving Tullahoma the lead for good. Fulton followed with a 25-yard scamper, giving THS the 37-23 victory.
Despite the penalties, Tullahoma totaled the most offensive yards it has had all season, with 416, the majority of which came on the ground. Corn rushed for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26 carries.
Fulton added 48 yards on four rushing attempts for the Wildcats. The junior quarterback also completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts, throwing for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while being intercepted once.
On the season, Fulton has completed 64 percent of his passes, connecting on 118 of his 184 opportunities for 1,502 yards and 13 touchdowns, while being intercepted 10 times.
Corn has been a workhorse for THS, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The senior tailback has rushed for 1,154 yards on 215 carries and 16 touchdowns.
When Tullahoma and Marshall County clashed in Lewisburg in August, it was defensive battle. Each team was held to under 300 yards of offense on the night.
The Wildcats struck first for points, as Fulton connected with Corn for a passing touchdown. The THS quarterback found Corn downfield for a 33-yard score to start the contest.
Rucker got the Tigers on the scoreboard early in the third quarter with a rushing touchdown, before Kobe Burks scored on a 5-yard run for Tullahoma. Rucker again scored in the fourth quarter for Marshall County, but a missed extra-point attempt, allowed the Wildcats to hold a 14-13 advantage.
The Tigers had one final drive to try to score to win the game. However, Thomison saw his pass get intercepted by Kaleb Stroop as Tullahoma sealed the victory.
On the season, Tullahoma has been led by its defense, which has forced 24 turnovers on the year, including a secondary that has intercepted 16 passes. Jakobe Thomas, Hunter Jewell and Quintin Howard lead the team in interceptions, picking off three passes. Stroop and Burks each have two picks, while Sam Brock, Race Marin and Payton Howard each have one interception.
Burks also has two fumble recoveries for the Wildcats, including one against Marshall County. Matthew Ross also has a pair of fumble recoveries, while Hunter Palmer, Jewell, Brian Nelms and Ty Cox each have one for Tullahoma.
Tickets to Friday night’s game are on sale currently. Advance tickets will be sold for $8 in the Tullahoma High School main office until 1 p.m. on Friday. Tickets can also be purchased online with $1.42 added fee here: https://gofan.co/app/events/41385.
Those attending can also purchase tickets at the gate. Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. For those who can’t make it to the game, it will be broadcast on 101.5 FM.