HENDERSON – Henderson County parlayed its explosive offense and Marshall County’s mistakes into a runaway 61-21 victory and a third consecutive district football championship Friday night at Colonels Stadium.
Marshall County junior quarterback Chase Clark threw for one touchdown to Logan Taylor and ran for another and Trent Low got the third Marshal TD.
But the Marshals were overmatched. The Colonels’ ground attack rolled up 353 yards and six touchdowns, and Hunter Comer, who ran for two scores, also threw for two more TDs.
While Marshall County was able to tally 310 yards in a balanced ground and air attack, the Marshals lost two fumbles and had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Henderson County.
Too often, the Marshals surrendered field position to the Colonels, which made the total yardage figures somewhat misleading.
Still, the Marshals showed early resiliency.
“We went toe-to-toe with them, made them punt” on their second possession and recovered a fumble on the Colonels’ third series, coach Ron Bernard pointed out.
The Marshals sputtered on the opening possession and had to punt, and then saw Henderson County strike quickly on a short field. It took only two running plays to cover 41 yards, with Cade Wilkie going the final 10 yards for a 7-0 lead.
But Marshall County bounced back with a 65-yard drive that took only four plays. Clark threw to Taylor, who made a leaping catch to wrestle the ball away from Colonels defender Jamal Hill and ran the last few yards to the end zone. The play covered 47 yards, and Brian Dueker’s conversion kick tied the score at 7-7 with 7:56 to play in the first quarter.
Then after Henderson drove to with two yards of the Marshall County goal line the Marshal defense stiffened and the Colonels coughed up the ball. The Marshals took over with the game tied 7-7.
Then, Bernard said, “We just got outmanned.”
The Marshals were unable to dig themselves out of the deep hole, and Henderson regained possession after an MC punt rolled to a stop inside midfield at the Marshal 44. The Colonels methodically drove to the tie-breaking score, with Whitlock tacking a pitch and going the last 20 yards around left end.
On the ensuing possession, a flag negated a big gainer and left the Marshals with a second-and-26 at their own 10 when Clark threw the first of his two interceptions. Wilkie grabbed the errant throw at the 19, and the Colonels needed only one play to turn the mistake into a touchdown, on a 19-yard pass from Comer to Robert Hennigan with 5:34 left before halftime to make it 21-7.
The Marshals’ last gasp came on their next possession, when they drove from their 35 to their second score. It came on a 28-yard run by Clark on a bootleg run around left end that fooled the Colonel defense. An attempted two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the score at 21-13.
At that point, things began to come unraveled for Marshall County.
Henderson County marched 65 yards for an answering touchdown with 1:17 left in the half, and the Clark had the ball pop loose on a keeper with 34 seconds left on the clock. The Colonels squeezed five plays into that amount of time, with Comer throwing a 10-yard completion to Robert Hennigan with only seven seconds left in the half for a 35-13 lead.
“When you play against good teams, you can’t turn the ball over,” Marshals coach Ron Bernard said.