PADUCAH – Several of Marshall County’s football opponents this year have benefited from the Marshals’ generosity in turning the ball over. Add McCracken County to the list, although the Mustangs really didn’t need any such assistance.
The first-year program of the consolidation of Heath, Lone Oak and Reidland high schools ran up a six-touchdown lead and went on to win 49-6 Friday night at Marquette Stadium in the Region 1, Class 6A opener for both schools.
A fumble and an interception led to two of the Mustang touchdowns, but the athletic offense, led by quarterback Zaire Hughes, running back Jordan Troutman and receiver RaSheed Jones, overpowered the Marshals, who got their only points on a 2-yard run by Chris Goard with 9:02 left in the second period. A two-point conversion pass attempt failed, leaving the score at 42-6.
Hughes ran for one score and threw for three TDs, two of them to Jones and one to Cole Ousley. Troutman scored twice on short runs and John Welsh returned an interception 43 yards for the other tally.
McCracken County took the opening kickoff across midfield to the 47 and then scored on the first snap, a 43-yard strike from Hughes to Jones. Reed Snow booted the first of seven PAT kicks to make it 7-0.
Marshall County fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, and McCracken took two plays to score from the Marshall 28. Troutman got all 28 yards, the last in a 10-yard jaunt, and it was 14-0 at the 11:35 mark.
The Marshals got their first yardage on a six-yard pass from quarterback Cole Barnard to receiver Clay Allen, but Barnard’s next throw was picked off by strong safety Morgan Alexander. Three snaps later, Hughes and Jones hooked up for their second TD, this one covering 55 yards, and it was 21-0.
The Marshals put together a sustained drive on their next possession, aided by a pair of offsides penalties against the over-eager Mustang defense, but the drive ended abruptly on its ninth play, where Barnard threw his second pick, this one taken from the 43 to the end zone by Allen.
Again, the Marshal offense gutted out a drive, moving from the 21 across midfield to the 44. Again, McCracken penalties helped the drive. But Marshall County surrendered the ball on downs at the 44.
Troutman galloped 14 yards to the 30, and Hughes hit Ousley for a 30-yard strike.
The next Marshal possession went 11 plays from the 28 to the Mustang 35, with the help of two more offsides calls and a personal foul penalty that gave the Marshals new life after they had punted on fourth and long, but it ended, again, in a loss on downs.
The Mustangs went 65 yards in five plays, the keys a 41-yard pass from Hughes to Jones and the final 11-yard run by the Mustang quarterback.
Battered but unbowed, Marshall County finally ended the frustration. Senior Nolan Nichols fought his way to the Mustang 49 on the return of the ensuing kickoff and a 10-play drive got the Marshals on the scoreboard.
Barnard completed four of five passes, including an 18-yard gainer to Allen and a 20-yarder to Travis Griggs and Nichols carried three times for 12 tough yards, setting up a second and goal at the 2. Goard blasted into the end zone for his third rushing TD of the season with 2:30 left before halftime.
McCracken County was stingy against the rush, limiting the Marshals to 74 yards on 39 carries. Nichols led the way with 44 yards on 17 carries.
The Marshals fared a little better through the air, with Barnard hitting on 11 of 23 passes for 116 yards. Allen also completed one of five tosses for four yards. Allen caught three passes for 53 yards and Griggs hauled in five for 50. Nichols had three catches for 13 yards.
Penalties were the biggest weak spot for McCracken County. The Mustangs were hit for 70 yards on eight violations.
THIS WEEK: Marshall County travels to Henderson for another district battle, this one against 6-1 Henderson County. The Colonels won their third straight game in a 41-12 win over Daviess County Friday night, giving them a 1-0 mark in district play.