PHOTOS: Chris King/TSSN The Valley
CHAPEL HILL, Tenn.–The Marion County Warriors used lights out defense and a dominant run game to cruise to a 55-14 win over the Forrest Rockets.
Though it’s the third semifinal appearance in a row for the Warriors, it is only the first for their fearless leader.
“I am always proud of our guys, and win or lose doesn’t define how proud I am,” said Marion County head coach Joey Mathis. “Our guys came out and had to fight for the win tonight. It was a big game tonight, a very hostile environment and our guys came ready to play.”
The Marion County defense came to play on Friday, as they were lights out all night long. The Warriors were in the backfield for most of the game as they forced five sacks, two fumbles and three interceptions. Hunter Zeman made the defensive play of the game as he picked off the quarterback and returned it for a touchdown to extend the Warrior lead to 48-7 with 10:22 left in the fourth quarter. The Warriors held Forrest to 32 yards rushing on 26 attempts and 176 total yards of offense.
“We came ready to play on defense tonight,” said Mathis. “We have relied heavily on our defense all season and they came to play once again tonight. We had a great game plan by our coaching staff coming into the game and we executed it very well tonight. Couldn’t be more proud with our defensive performance.”
Offensively, the Warriors were able to move the ball at will on the Rockets. Hunter Zeman led the offense with 118 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. Jacob Saylors also had a big night as he finished with 99 yards on 6 carries and two total touchdowns including a 74-yard rushing touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Quarterback Isaiah Sampson accounted for three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown in the win over Forrest. The Warriors rushed for 323 yards on 44 carries for an average of 7.3 yards per carry.
“Offense played well tonight,” said Mathis. “There were a few mistakes but we can get those cleaned up and be ready for next week. I am very pleased with how our offense played.”
With the win over Forrest, Marion County moves onto the Class 2A Semifinals for the third season in a row. The Warriors will host Austin-East after they knocked off Happy Valley in the Quarterfinals 20-13.
The Semifinals will take place on Nov. 25 and kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Marion County High School.
The Warriors will try to make it a very dim Black Friday for the Roadrunners who come in with an identical record to Marion County, hailing from the Knoxville region.
MCHS — 7 | 14 | 14 | 20 || 55
FHS — 7 | 0 | 0 | 7 || 14
1st (7:47) Slayton Wild, 2 yard rush [Javier Rios Kick Good]
Forrest 7, Marion County 0.
1st (5:01) Isaiah Sampson, 1 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 7, Forrest 7.
2nd (10:46) Sampson 12 yard pass to Jacob Saylors, [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 14, Forrest 7.
2nd (6:15) Hunter Zeman, 7 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 21, Forrest 7.
3rd (8:25) Sampson, 1 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 28, Forrest 7.
3rd (7:03) Sampson, 1 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 35, Forrest 7.
4th (10:30) Saylors, 74 yard rush [McElroy Kick No Good]
Marion County 41. Forrest 7.
4th (10:22) Zeman, 15 yard pick 6 [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 48. Forrest 7.
4th (6:29) Bret Nelson, 6 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 55. Forrest 7.
4th (1:55) Layton Bennett, 7 yard rush [Javier Rios Kick Good]
Marion County 55. Forrest 14.