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Tigers fall to top-ranked Firebirds

Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2023 at 6:42 pm

Post Photo by Chris Siers Marcus O’Neal (1) and Marquay Allen (9) breakup a deep pass intended for Pearl Cohn’s D’arious Reed.

Post Photo by Chris Siers Markese Davis turns upfield after hauling in a pass from Tiger quarterback Silas Teat and scampers to the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown reception.

By Chris Siers
NASHVILLE — Taking on the No. 1 team in the state, arguably of any classification, the Marshall County Tigers needed to play a perfect game to pull off the upset of the year.
While the Tigers (8-2, 6-1) made big plays at times, a handful of missed opportunities ultimately were more than Marshall County could overcome in a 42-17 loss to the Firebirds (10-0, 7-0) to end the regular season.
“ Pearl Cohn is a really good football team. They’ve been the No. 1 team in 4A all year for a reason. You have to play about a perfect game of football to get it to the end and we weren’t able to do that,” Tiger coach Thomas Osteen said.
The Firebirds milked nearly five minutes off the clock on the game’s opening drive and capped the 14-play drive with a 2-yard burst into the end zone by Zeion Simpson-Smith, the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
Following a Marshall County three and out on the following possession, the Firebirds appeared to seize every bit of the game’s momentum when Simpson-Smith found a crease from Pearl Cohn’s own 7-yard line and appeared to break loose for the 93-yard score.
Instead of the score, Marshall County’s Marcus O’Neal tracked him down and punched the ball loose, which was fumbled through the back of the end zone for a Firebird touchback.
The two teams traded possessions through the remainder of the first quarter until the Firebirds put together another lengthy drive that ended with a second touchdown by Simpson-Smith on a direct snap that scored from six yards out.
Pearl Cohn later fumbled the ball on the 47-yard line and Jaden Keys fell on the ball to retain possession for the Tigers with 4:56 left in the half.
With excellent starting field position, the Tigers were able to methodically move the ball to the Pearl Cohn end of the field and on second down from the 22, senior quarterback Silas Teat connected with Markese Davis, who streaked down the sideline for the 22-yard score.
Following Wyatt Joyce’s successful kick after, the Tigers grabbed a bit of the momentum back and with less than two minutes until the half, Marshall County felt good with the late score.
But that momentum shift was short-lived as Kyler Garcia took the ensuing kickoff from the Firebirds’ own 5-yard line inside the Tiger red zone.
Pearl Cohn quarterback Keshawn Tarleton connected with D’arious Reed on the 18-yard touchdown for the late score and by halftime, Pearl Cohn led 21-7.
“I felt like we had a good game plan for them. I was proud of the way most of our guys competed to the end. In the second quarter when we cut it to 14-7, if we could have gotten to the half at 14-7, I really feel like we could have gotten it to the end of the game. When you’re playing a team like that, you’re basically playing a haymaker punch, every play. We withstood a lot of those punches, but a lot of them hit home tonight,” Osteen said.
Things went from bad to worse on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, which Marshall County was set to receive.
The Tigers took the kickoff to the 30-yard line before being stripped by Pearl Cohn and returned for the touchdown to make it a 28-7 lead.
Following the fumble returned, the Tigers organized another scoring drive, this time capped with a 39-yard field goal by Joyce.
But Simpson-Smith added his third touchdown of the night in the closing minutes of the third quarter and Tarleton tossed for another with 7:06 left in the game.
Even trailing 42-10, the Tigers continued to move the ball against the Firebirds and after pushing to the Pearl Cohn red zone, it was Teat who broke contain and scored from 17 yards out for the final touchdown of the night.
The 17 points scored by the Tigers was the most given up by the Firebirds and Marshall County had additional chances to add to the score and it not been for an interception in the end zone and being stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Even with the loss, the Tigers locked up the No. 2 seed in the region and will host a first-round game this week at Preston Hopkins.
Teat connected on 16-of-25 attempts for 206 yards. His top target of the night was Jamahl Gentry, who made four grabs for 93 yards.
Kamariq Perryman made six grabs for 53 yards and added another 38 yards on the ground on 13 carries.
“Those guys (Perryman and Gen

Post Photo by Chris Siers Wyatt Joyce connects on a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter. He also made good on two extra points on Friday night.

try) are really talented. That was part of our game plan to get them in the game tonight. Happy for those guys. They made some plays tonight when we needed,” Osteen said.
Marshall County will host Jackson North Side (4-6) in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs on Friday night.
“I told the team before the game and after, this game won’t define our season unless we let it. You have to push reset and refocus and come in this next week. There are so many good opportunities out there for this football, but we can’t let Pearl Cohn beat us twice next week,” Osteen said.

Marshall Co. 0 7 3 7 — 17
Pearl Cohn 7 14 14 7 — 42

First Quarter
PC — Zeion Simpson-Smith 2 run, (Kassan Rohan kick), 7:38.
Second Quarter
PC — Simpson-Smith 6 run, (Rohan kick), 8:06.
MC — Markese Davis 22 pass from Silas Teat, (Wyatt Joyce kick), 1:45.
PC — D’arious Reed 18 pass from Keshawn Tarleton, (Rohan kick), 1:24.
Third Quarter
PC — Dickson Iriogbe 30 fumble return, (Rohan kick), 11:48.
MC — Joyce 39-yard field goal, 8:49.
PC — Simpson-Smith 6 run, (Rohan kick), 4:37.
Fourth Quarter
PC — Reshad McDowell 18 pass from Tarleton, (Rohan kick) 7:06.
MC — Teat 17 run, (Joyce kick), 2:34.