No. 8 Tigers claw Marshall to shreds, 55-0
The Smith-Cotton football team must have a punter, but Marshall never saw one.
Other than a pair of first-half turnovers which prevented the Tigers from taking more than a four-touchdown lead into the break, there was no stopping the home team Friday during a 55-0 non-conference blowout.
The Owls gave up more points than in any game since Cecil Naylor retired as head coach in '94, and the school's official records do not list highest total allowed. However, Marshall hadn't suffered such a whipping since going down 52-0 in 2002, and that was at the hands of eventual state champion Kearney in the Class 4 quarterfinals at the end of a 9-3 NCMC title season.
The Owls had ready-made excuses for the shellacking: they're relatively young and were short-handed, with seniors Emmanuel Reeders and Cody Hodges -- experienced starters both -- among the many veteran players out.
In addition, the Thursday death of freshman softball player Jessica Souder had cast a pall on the day at MHS.
It was also a sloppy field, but that didn't seem to bother senior Solomon Watkins, who tattered the Marshall defense to the tune of 188 yards and three touchdowns. Of his 17 carries, 13 resulted in first downs or scores and 12 were of 10 or more yards.
That was considerably more productive than Marshall's offense, which netted only 90 yards -- with defensive linemen involved in 22 of the Tigers' 41 tackles on runs from scrimmage. Conversely, the Owls' defensive backs were the only ones involved in 22 of the team's 38 tackles, Smith-Cotton averaging over 10 yards per snap.
Junior Chase Kempf ended the Tigers' first drive with an interception at the Marshall 19-yard line, but the next three home team possessions would begin in Owls' territory -- two of them resulting in touchdowns, on a 23-yard Watkins run and 1-yard plunge by senior fullback Jordan Brown.
Sophomore Jason Adcock, who had nine solo tackles on the night, forced a fumble recovered by senior Tyler Nienaber at Marshall's 36. The began the Owls' only sustained drive of the game, 10 plays for 38 yards before stalling out at the Smith-Cotton 24.
Watkins scored on runs of 11 and 14 yards before the half was over. The Tigers scored on their first four series of the second half, junior Kendall Brown catching a 15-yard pass from senior Bryce Johnson and subs mopping up: senior Arthur Hartt with a 4-yard run, a 33-yard dash by junior Andrew Byrd -- who only became eligible that day and wasn't on the printed roster -- and sophomore Dominique Smith on a 33-yard quarterback keeper.
The only blemish for Smith-Cotton was a missed extra point by senior Jessica Greer, breaking a string of 40 straight conversions during her career.
The Tigers (3-0) rolled to 480 total yards, 407 rushing, and 18 first downs. Senior Matt Jacobs continued to be the workhorse/tackling dummy for the Owls, carrying 23 times for a mere 44 yards as again blocking proved unreliable -- as many of the team's running plays going for losses
There's no doubting that Marshall (0-3) has faced a brutal early-season schedule, two of the three opponents overwhelming a young squad.
The Owls are hoping the NCMC campaign, which opens Friday at Boonville, will be more competitive.