The Cane Ridge Ravens traveled down I-65 to Marshall County on Friday night in one of the premier games of the Week 1 slate. Both teams won regional titles in 2016 but must replace key members of those squads. The atmosphere in Lewisburg was electric for the return of football and the chance to see these two teams put on a show.
The game started about as well as the Marshall County Tigers could hope. Cane Ridge was forced into a punting situation on their first possession after an apparent touchdown run was called back due to holding. The punt snap was way off target and Marshall County recovered to start their first possession on the Raven 1 yard line. Kamron Liggett punched into the end zone shortly thereafter to give the Tigers an early 6-0 lead after a blocked PAT. However, the Ravens would respond to dominate the next portion of the game. First year starter at quarterback Korey Andrews had a good game for the Ravens and managed the game well. Andrews is not a quick scrambler but he has a big arm and makes smart decisions on the field. He hooked up with his favorite target Jared McCray on an 18 yard touchdown reception to give Cane Ridge the lead at 7-6.
The offensive line for Cane Ridge had an especially good first half against Marshall County. The line opened up plenty of holes for RB Devon Starling to get to the second level and he did the rest from there. Starling was a constant threat to break a huge play every time he touched the ball. He is a surprisingly physical runner for someone of his size and quickness. Starling would score the second touchdown of the evening for Cane Ridge when he burst a draw play 11 yards untouched for the score. The PAT would be missed and leave the Raven advantage at 13-6. The Tigers and talented QB Bryce Wallace struggled to find their passing game rhythm for most of the night. Marshall County continued to fight though and was rewarded with another opportunity late in the first half. The Tigers would begin their 2nd scoring drive at the Cane Ridge 23 yard line after the Ravens were forced to punt from their own endzone. Bryce Wallace would be given just enough time to find his receiver Dagon Stacy going across the middle on a slant route for the 13 yard TD and even the score at 13-13. This score would hold up until halftime and the teams entered their locker rooms to make adjustments.
Both teams were plagued by turnovers and penalties during the third quarter. The only score of the period came on a wacky play as Marshall County was driving towards the endzone. After solid rushing gains by Kamron Liggett and Bryce Wallace moved the ball inside the Raven 30 yard line, disaster struck. Wallace rolled out of the pocket but lost control of the ball as he pulled it back to throw downfield. The ball went backward and was scooped up by Cane Ridge defensive lineman Desmond Goodloe. Goodloe rumbled down the sideline but was caught from behind after 40 yards and had the ball knocked away from him. Goodloe’s Raven teammate James Reese IV picked the ball up once again and finished the 72 yard fumble return for touchdown to put Cane Ridge on top 20-13.
The fumble and touchdown return were crushing to the momentum Marshall County had been building throughout the 3rd quarter. However, Coach Osteen’s Tigers continued to fight and showed resilience that will surely benefit them as the season progresses. Marshall County started their next possession from their own 11 yard line but began to march methodically down the field. One key play was a 3rd and 8 screen pass conversion to Miciah Greer. The drive would eventually be capped off by Kamron Liggett once again plunging into the endzone from 1 yard out to even the score at 20-20 with just over 6:00 left in the ballgame.
At this critical junction of the game, Korey Andrews, Jared McCray, and Devon Starling went to work. Andrews connected with McCray on two pivotal 3rd down conversions to move Cane Ridge into scoring position. Starling finished the drive by rushing 2 yards off left tackle for the score. Cane Ridge now led the game 27-20 with only 1:23 left in the 4th quarter. Bryce Wallace and the Tiger offense are capable of quick strikes but the Cane Ridge defensive line applied quick pressure all night. Wallace was plagued by defensive end Dewayne Johnson on the final drive. Johnson forced Wallace to abandon the pocket multiple times on this final drive and disrupted the route timing. Marshall County would move the ball to midfield for a few last heaves towards the endzone but no Hail Mary’s were answered on this night. Cane Ridge had held on to defeat Marshall County by a final score of 27-20. Both teams will play at home next week with Cane Ridge hosting Brentwood and Marshall County hosting Shelbyville.
Quotes from the game:
-Korey Andrews on his first start at QB: “First time out and a good environment. You have to get the jitters out. I was struggling the first half but came out in the 2nd half and just started throwing the ball. Following his directions (Coach Woods) and you see what happens. Came out with the W.”
-Dewayne Johnson on applying pressure late in the game: “I got my boost from the coaches and teammates pressing me hard. A lot of days after practice we are sprinting, doing team D, and constant reps. Just pushing through. We already knew we were coming to an environment like this where we just have to play through adversity.”
-Desmond Goodloe on trying to score after fumble recovery: “Man, I ran out of breath. I thought I was a running back and my eyes got big. At the end of the day I’m glad I had my boy Reese #1 pick it up and take it to the house. I love it.”
-Jared McCray on getting open: “I’ve worked hard on my routes. Just making plays and getting open. Coach told me that as hard as I work nobody in this state should be able to guard me. I just keep pushing everyday and working on my routes.”
-Cane Ridge head coach Eddie Woods on his defensive line: “They’re athletic. On defense we have 7 guys returning. I think we only lost one outside backer. We had four guys returning on that front line. That says a lot. Then we had a lot of guys that played last year as well. Those guys, they get after it and play assignment football which is good for us and they had to against this very good quarterback.
-Marshall County head coach Thomas Osteen on what the game said about his team: “I feel like it says we are resilient. We are a 4A team playing a 6A team that really has a chance to win the 6A state championship. To go toe to toe with them for four quarters hopefully says a lot of good things about our team. But, we’re not looking for consolation trophies or to keep it close and we had so many chances to win the game.”