Special to the Tribune-Courier
DRAFFENVILLE– From the coin toss to the final quarter, the Marshall County Marshals started the 2013 season at a disadvantage with a 35-24 loss to Trigg County High School Friday at the Carroll Traylor Stadium.
The Marshals were temporary underdogs in the back and forth battle against a hard-hitting Wildcats offense. The two teams went toe to toe with each other after two lead changes and multiple large-yard plays on both sides of the field.
Head Coach Ron Barnard said the team could have been more mentally prepared for the first game, and said it is something he hopes to fix in the coming weeks.
“We did some good things but we did not maintain the tempo that we wanted to maintain,” Barnard said. “I have to do a better job of teaching blocking and tackling. When we get the team ready next week, we will find a way to solve it.”
The Marshals struggled to convert after the Wildcats seized the beginning minutes with a running touchdown on the first carry of the game. The explosive play came seconds after a successful kickoff return, putting Trigg County on the Marshall County 45-yard line.
“I did not have the guys mentally prepared,” Barnard said. “Some of our kids did an outstanding job. Cody Gregory hardly ever came off the field. (Sophomore running back/cornerback Dalton) Riley is going both ways as a sophomore. He will be a spectacular athlete for us.”
Marshall County stayed afloat throughout the half with fourth down conversions, starting with a fake-punt play by senior quarterback Cody Barnard. Another fourth down play was made with a completed pass to Riley, putting the Marshals in the red zone to score a touchdown.
“My responsibility is to do my part and contribute to make this work,” Riley said. “We are a team, and it is important that we all put our work in to do well.”
The Marshal defense fell behind after a burst of energy at the return and allowed Trigg County to make crucial passing plays for the second touchdown. A holding call on Marshall County sealed the efforts of the Wildcats, putting Trigg County further ahead at 14-6.
Senior running back Nolan Nichols revitalized the Marshal offense with an interception at the Trigg County 20-yard line to begin the second quarter. A complete pass to senior wide receiver Cody Gregory inched Marshall County closer to a tie and put the score up to 12.
Trigg County gave up another opportunity on a fumble recovered by Marshall County, putting the Marshals in the lead for the first time in the game after a completed 15-yard pass to senior receiver Austin Spicer.
The tempo changed for the once sluggish Trigg County defensive line in the second half, with a sack to push the Marshals back five yards. The offense followed suit with another touchdown on a failed fourth down attempt by Marshall County, extending the Wildcat lead to 28-18 with 8:24 left in the game.
The Marshals invested more faith in a fourth down conversion pass play, but the Wildcats managed to snatch the interception to run the clock and score one more touchdown. Despite another final touchdown by the Marshals, the game came to a close with a final score of 35-24.
Riley said he hopes he and the team will work more on finishing games stronger to be a more competitive team this season.
“Once we get our form tackling down and wrap up, I think we will be stronger,” Riley said. “That is also a personal thing I want to work on. As a whole, wrapping up will be the most important thing.”
The Marshals will kick off next at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9 at Carroll Traylor Stadium, when they take on Allen County -Scottsville.