DRAFFENVILLE – Clay Allen, Lane Roberts, Austin Spicer and Nolan Nichols powered a valiant, persistent comeback effort, but Marshall County’s football Marshals just could not get over the hump and fell to District 1-6A opponent Daviess County Friday night, 51-44, at Carroll Traylor Stadium.
Allen threw five touchdown passes, three of them to Roberts and two to Spicer, and Nichols pushed his season total to 804 rushing yards with a 143-yard effort. Nichols also led the defense with 11 tackles, including nine solo hits.
The Marshals scored two touchdowns in less than a minute to close out the first half, recovered an onside kick, set up a TD with an interception and kept their hopes alive almost to the very end with a 97-yard drive to their final touchdown.
But a 39-point run spanning the first and second quarters staked the Panthers to an almost-insurmountable lead, and whenever Marshall County got within one TD of catching the visitors, Daviess County came up with another touchdown to stay just out of reach.
The Marshals scored first, taking Daviess County’s fumble of the opening kickoff at the 37 and scoring in three plays, with Nichols getting his seventh rushing TD of the year just 50 seconds into the game.
At the other end of the contest, the Marshals trailed 51-37 with about four minutes left in the game. A holding penalty on the kickoff return, a sack by Daviess County and a false start penalty had Marshall County in a third-and-20 situation at the Marshals’ own 3 yard line.
But a fake punt got the Marshals a first down on a pass from Cole Barnard to Austin Spicer, and Allen hurled a pass to Roberts, streaking down the right sideline, for a 67-yard scoring strike. Ethan Mensch’s second conversion kick of the evening cut the lead to 7 with 2:23 left to play.
In a controversial sequence, officials stepped off a penalty against Daviess County that gave the Panthers the extra down they needed to run out the clock.
“He [the referee] never gave us or the team a chance to decline that penalty,” Barnard said.
In between Marshall County’s first and sixth TDs of the evening, Daviess County got enough points from a variety of scorers to hang onto the lead and the win.
Kevonta Thomas and Samuel Spiceson scored on short runs and quarterback Luke Bailey hooked up with Darren Jones on the first of two TD passes to take a 26-6 lead at the first quarter stop.
When play resumed, Chase Lecroy got the Panthers’ fourth TD.
Daviess kept up the pace in the second period, with Alex Lecroy scoring on an interception return and Bailey and Jones hooking up for their second tally.
But with just under three minutes left before halftime, Marshall County’s offense came to life. Allen drove the team 84 yards, capping the drive with a 37-yard TD pass to Spicer, who cut across the middle and took the pass in stride inside the 15. Roberts’ 2-point conversion run made it 39-14 with 52 seconds on the clock.
Then Roberts picked off a Bailey pass and the Marshals were back on offense. With less than a second remaining, Allen hit Roberts in the end zone for a 30-yard strike. Mensch booted the extra point to make it 39-21 at intermission.
Both teams stepped up the defensive intensity in the third period, but Marshall County put points on the board via an 11-yard strike from Allen to Spicer, and Allen ran the conversion to cut the lead to 10 at 39-29.
Daviess County scored its first touchdown in more than 17 minutes of playing time when Bailey picked up his own fumble and went in from the 3. A conversion run failed, leaving the Marshals with a 45-29 deficit.
Marshall County answered with an Allen pass to Roberts, with a conversion pass to Travis Griggs to make it 45-37 with 6:35 on the clock.
Again, Daviess pushed the lead back to two scores. A second-and-goal touchdown pass from Bailey to Jones was nullified by a penalty, but after the penalty moved the ball back to the 22, Bailey from Chase Lecroy for the Panthers’ final TD and a 51-37 advantage.
The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of offense, with Daviess County getting 150 yards rushing and 252 passing while the Marshals rushed for 226, led by Nichols’ 23 carries, and threw for 300.
Chris Goard rushed for 42 yards and Roberts had 35. Roberts caught four passes for 109 yards, while Spicer had seven receptions for 178 yards.
Allen, who replaced Barnard at quarterback after Barnard was shaken up for the second week in a row, completed 12 of 23 passes with one interception and 270 yards.
Justin Robinson added a fumble recovery for Marshall County.
The Marshals fell to 1-8 and ended up at the bottom of the district standings, behind McCracken County, Henderson County and Daviess County.
THIS WEEK: The Marshals host rival Graves County on senior night Friday to wrap up the regular season. Graves County is 7-2 in Class 5A competition. Graves won 42-14 last year. The Eagles have won seven straight over the Marshals since a 20-6 victory by Marshall County at Traylor Stadium Oct. 28, 2005.
Marshall County will travel to Meade County in the first round of the playoffs on Nov. 8.