MURRAY – Mistakes, and the opponents’ ability to capitalize on them, were critical in Friday night’s National Guard Patriot Bowl matchup between Marshall County and Webster County.
Both teams had moments of flawed and lackluster execution, but Marshall made Webster pay for its miscues, got away with minor consequences after its own errors, and posted a 39-6 victory at Calloway County High’s Jack D. Rose Stadium.
It was an unsatisfying victory for coach Ron Barnard, who vowed to have his team out at 8 a.m. Saturday for practice. But it was a victory, and it put the Marshals (2-1) back on the winning track after a 52-7 thumping at the hands of Lone Oak a week earlier after opening the season with a 56-7 win over McLean County Aug. 24.
“We’re playing uninspired football,” Barnard said. “I don’t know why.”
But there were bright spots.
Senior Jamie Gilland stood out on both sides of the ball, grabbing two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and then scoring on a four-yard run shortly after his second pick ended with a touchdown-saving tackle and set the Marshals up with a first-and-goal.
Freshman Dalton Riley scooped up one of four Trojan fumbles and raced 81 yards to the end zone for another six points.
The offense yielded a TD pass from Clay Allen to Austin Spicer. Thomas Alkemeyer scored on a one-yard run, the TD coming after Nolan Nichols broke loose on a 36-yard run and was dragged down by Webster’s J.D. Newton at the one.
Nichols and Brock Herndon both converted runs on two-point conversions and Herndon kicked a 27-yard field goal and two extra points.
Herndon’s field goal put the first points on the scoreboard with 9:46 on the clock in the second period.
Earlier, it appeared that Webster would take the initiative, as the Trojans moved the ball up the field handily on the opening possession, picking up two first downs and moving into Marshall territory on their first four plays.
But linebacker Jacob Ledford burst through the Trojan offensive line to sack quarterback Zach Bruce, and Webster seemed to lose its poise. Coach Scotty Vance had to burn two time-outs to avoid delay-of-game penalties and the drive fizzled.
However, Marshall could do no better. The Marshals moved smartly to the Webster 28, the big play a 27-yard pass from Allen to Dalton Greenfield. Then Allen was rushed and hit as he turned to toss a screen to Gilland. The ball went behind Gilland, a live ball as a backward pass. Gilland recovered, but Marshall County faced a fourth-and-22.
Herndon’s punt was downed at the 13 and the Marshal defense came up with another sack of Bruce, this one by freshman Eddie Morris. Gilland returned the Trojan punt to the 39 and the Marshals drove toward the Webster goal line as time ran out in the opening period.
The drive stalled at the Trojan 10, and five plays into the second quarter, Herndon kicked his field goal.
Undaunted, Webster drove inside the Marshal 20, but Bruce’s pitch to Seth Barnhill ended up on the ground and Cole Barnard wrestled Barnhill to the ground. Riley grabbed the ball on the run and cruised untouched to the end zone. Nichols took a direct snap and scampered into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
After establishing a measure of control of the line of scrimmage and moving the ball steadily, Webster found itself on the short end of an 11-0 score. The Trojans never recovered.
The Marshals led 19-0 at halftime and added 20 more points in the third period.
Webster recovered a Marshall fumble and averted the shutout in the fourth quarter with a 39-yard catch-and-run by Tanner Corum on a throw from Bruce, who racked up 99 yards on only four completions in 13 attempts.
Gilland, who came into the game averaging a little better than 100 yards per game rushing, carried 11 times for 74 yards. Nichols added 52 yards on three carries. Gilland’s rushing TD was his second of the year and the interception return gave him four total. He also has one touchdown on a punt return.
Spicer’s TD catch was his second of the year. He had two catches for 20 yards, while Dalton Greenfield had 42 yards on the one first-quarter reception.
Seth Barnhill led the Trojans with 18 carries for 98 yards and two catches for 63 yards. Bruce, a converted tight end and defensive end, also rushed for nine yards.