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Tigers’ give Pearl Cohn best shot, come up short in 3rd round

Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Post Photo by Chris Siers Silas Teat gets a block and fires a strike downfield.

Post Photo by Chris Siers Aja Jones hauls in a bullet of a pass from quarterback Silas Teat for a big gain in the first half.

By Chris Siers
NASHVILLE — It’s tough to beat a team twice in a season, even for the No. 1 team in the state.
While the chips ultimately didn’t fall their way, the Marshall County Tigers (10-3) gave top-ranked Pearl Cohn (13-0) everything they could handle, but came up short in the third-round of the Class 4A state playoffs and saw their season come to an end with a 41-21 loss on Friday night.
The Tigers played a near-perfect first half and held the lead over the Firebirds at three different points in the half.
“I’m really proud to be a Marshall County Tiger and proud of this football team. Most people have called them (Pearl Cohn) the best public school team in the state of any classification. We gave them fits for a long time tonight. To be up at halftime, we’re just so proud of our kids,” Osteen said.
“We knew we had to play close to a perfect game and we just didn’t get it done. Hat’s off to Pearl Cohn. Hope they win the thing, but couldn’t be more proud of my kids and the effort they gave tonight.”
The game started favorably for the Tigers, looking to avenge a 42-17 defeat in the regular season finale.
Marshall County forced a punt and got off the field after just 1:49 and took the punt with favorable starting position.
But on the second play from scrimmage, the Pearl Cohn defense came up with an interception and took over on the Firebird 43-yard line.
On the very first play following the Pearl Cohn interception, Tiger defensive back Jamahl Gentry returned the favor with an interception of Keshawn Tarleton to give the Tigers the ball back.
Following the turnover swap, Marshall County pushed the ball to the 42-yard line, where a 42-yard field goal by Wyatt Joyce split the uprights, but a penalty on Pearl Cohn allowed Marshall County to retain possession.
Although able to find its way into the red zone, the drive stalled and Joyce once again booted a perfect field goal from 24 yards out for the 3-0 Marshall County lead.
In the first of four more lead changes in the half, Pearl Cohn responded in short order with Tarleton connecting on a 44-yard pass to D’Arious Reed.
But senior Tiger quarterback Silas Teat answered with a shot of his own coming on a 38-yard dart to Kel Hightower for a 10-7 Marshall County lead.
The teams swapped control of the lead two more times in the half, with Pearl Cohn’s Zeion Simpson-Smith scoring on a 2-yard burst into the end zone.
Aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties, the Tigers worked some excellent clock management and just before the half, Teat connected with senior wide out Jayden Randolph for the go-ahead touchdown on a 9-yard pass with seven seconds left in the half.
But after taking the lead and executing a near-perfect game-plan in the first half, the Firebirds’ speed eventually took its toll on both sides of the football.
“We needed to get some first downs in the third quarter and didn’t do that. We didn’t do a good job on first down. Any time you throw the ball against them, it’s so tough to complete passes,” Osteen said.
“We didn’t do a good enough job getting first downs in the third quarter and didn’t do a good enough job getting off the field on defense.”
Pearl Cohn picked off the Tigers on the first drive of the second half and quickly retook the lead with a second touchdown hook up between Tarleton and Reed, which went for 32 yards.
From that point, the Firebirds went on to outscore Marshall County 20-3 throughout the remainder of the game, with the only second-half points coming on another field goal from Joyce from 45 yards out with 1:04 left in the third.
The loss comes after Pearl Cohn defeated Marshall County, 42-17 in the regular season finale to clinch the Region 5-4A championship.
This season marks the second-straight 10-win season for the Tigers, guided by the 12-man senior class.
“It’s 12 seniors and it’s cliche to say, but it’s a great group of kids. It’s a high character group and high leadership group. It’s been the most enjoyable football season I’ve had in a few years and those seniors are the reason for it. They’ve had a great career and the second year in-a-row winning 10 football games is big. I told somebody last week this is a good enough football team to win a state championship in 4A, but a lot years there’s not a monster like Pearl Cohn in 4A,” Osteen said.
“We gave it a great shot, we just came up short.”

Marshall Co. 3 15 3 0 — 21
Pearl Cohn 7 7 14 13 — 41

First Quarter
MC — Wyatt Joyce 24-yard field goal, 3:04.
PC — D’Arious Reed 44 pass from Keshawn Tarleton, (Kassie Rohan kick), :36.

Second Quarter
MC — Kel Hightower 38 pass from Silas Teat, (Joyce kick), 9:43.
PC — Zeion Simpson-Smith 2 run, (Rohan kick), 3:06.
MC — Jayden Randolph 9 pass from Teat, (Joyce kick), :07.

Post Photo by Chris Siers Jayden Randolph keeps his concentration and tips the ball to himself and gets a foot inbounds for the Tiger touchdown with seven seconds left in the first half.

Third Quarter
PC — Reed 32 pass from Tarleton, (Rohan kick), 9:18.
PC — Simpson-Smith 44 run, (Rohan kick), 4:02.
MC — Joyce 45-yard field goal, 1:04.

Fourth Quarter
PC — Javion Kinnard 6 run, (kick failed), 11:54.
PC — Robert Left III 35 fumble Recovery, (Rohan kick), 1:34.