Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer
TALLASSEE – A missed field goal and an opportunistic bunch of Bulldogs became too much for the homestanding Tallassee High Tigers to overcome Friday night in front of the hometown faithful, losing to Marbury 22-20. The loss is Tallassee’s third straight in as many games, marking their first 0-3 spiral since the Covid-plagued 2020 season.
“We played very sloppy and we made foolish penalties,” said Tallassee Coach Mike Battles following the game. “Everytime we broke a long run, a 71-yard touchdown run, got a holding penalty. We did this, got a late hit, a personal foul penalty. It was very sloppy and very selfish football. When you do that, this is the outcome you get.”
Marbury (2-3, 0-2) put the Tigers on their haunches early though, recovering the opening kickoff and turning it into points. James Fowler – who coach Hayden Stockton said “grew up tonight” – completed an 11-yard pass to Azeer Hicks for the first points of the night. With the extra point, the Bulldogs pushed ahead 7-0.
“I thought we played more aggressively tonight than we’ve played all year,” said Hayden Stockton, coach of the Marbury High Bulldogs. “Our quarterback finally stepped up and we believed in him. He came to play tonight and we believed in him.”
Tallassee answered with a 70-yard touchdown run that was called back for holding. The drive that began with promise ended with a punt. Much to the fortune of the Bulldogs. Marbury – in the second quarter – added to their lead. Fowler scrambled and completed a key fourth-down pass setting the visiting Bulldogs up with a new set of downs deep inside the Tigers red zone. He called his own number on the next snap, pulling the handoff and racing down the Tallassee sideline into the end zone for the score. The following kick was blocked, but the damage was done with Marbury up 13-0.
Stockton: “It’s still a struggle. But he made some great third down plays that moved the chains for us and kept our defense off the field. I’m really proud of that young man right now.”
The Tigers battled back and strung together a scoring drive. Dontae Leonard broke free on a long scoring run to put Tallassee back into the game. With the kick, the Tigers trailed 13-7. That’s where the game stood at intermission.
After forcing and recovering a Marbury fumble early in the third quarter, the Tigers were able to manufacture a second, physical, scoring drive. Leonard broke loose on a 31-yard sprint into the end zone for the touchdown.
The point after, though, became an adventure courtesy of a mishandled hold that turned into an incomplete pass.
Battles: “We played hard and gave ourselves a chance to win it at the end. But when you do all those things, that’s not how the game is played and we are making a lot of mistakes. We are going to have to figure out a way to find some folks that can quit doing that or figure out why we are doing that. Because that’s not Tallassee football.”
Marbury took the lead for good at the 2:12 mark in the third. Carsyn Cobb plunged ahead on a short run for the go-ahead touchdown. The Bulldogs added a 20-yard field goal in the fourth to go ahead 22-13.
Tyler Ellis put the game on his back leading the Tigers down the field completed a 15-yard pass to Leonard and then by lowering his shoulder and rushing straight ahead from 15 yards out for the touchdown. With the kick, the mark moved to 22-20.
Fowler threw an interception that set up Tallassee with one last opportunity to send the purple and gold home happy. Ellis rumbled ahead on a 40-plus yard run moving them to the Marbury 15. A few plays later the drive stalled at the 13.
Send in the kicking team.
The hold and the snap were solid and the kick sailed through the air but bounced off the near upright and onto the damp turf deflating the home side of Hot O’Brien Stadium. In that same moment, Marbury’s fandom erupted in celebration. The Bulldogs were able to run out the clock and secure the victory, their second of the season.
Stockton: “It’s a team effort overall. The offense stepped up when we needed them to. The defense did and our special teams really took advantage of some of the things we saw tonight. Those are things that good teams do to win. Those are things that we are trying to focus and set.”
So what’s next?
Marbury hosts Trinity next week while Tallassee travels over to Clanton to face Chilton County.
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