JASPER, Tenn.–For the third time in as many years, Marion County will have more than a semifinal run to be thankful for after taking down the Austin-East Roadrunners, 35-21 Friday night
The Warriors may have advanced to the Class 2A State Championship for the third consecutive season, but it’s State Title game No. 1 for a head coach in his inaugural season.
“It is an unbelievable feeling to advance to the state championship in my first year as head coach,” said Marion County’s Joey Mathis. “It’s a true community win tonight because they have been supportive all season long. Tonight means a lot to this program and I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
The Warriors are the last team left standing in the Valley after South Pittsburg fell to Greenback (42-17) and Sequatchie County was blanked (24-0) by Alcoa during their respective semifinal matchups.
Marion County came out hot as the Warriors jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after a nine-yard touchdown run from Hunter McClain. Shortly after the McClain touchdown, Isaiah Sampson found Kane Hale on a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Warriors up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Warriors dominated the second quarter much like the first as Jacob Saylors found the endzone from three yards out to give Marion County a 20-0 lead with 8:17 left in the first half. McClain and Sampson each scored on one-yard runs to give the Warriors a 35-0 lead heading into halftime.
The third quarter was a back and forth battle as neither team was able to put points on the board.
Austin-East controlled the fourth quarter, as the Roadrunners were able to put three touchdowns on the board to cut the final deficit to 35-21 with 3:53 left. Mr. Football finalist Darius Harper finished with 299 yards passing and combined for three total touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Austin-East.
The Warriors, though, forced Harper to throw four interceptions. That proved to be the difference maker.
“We had a few injuries that we had to overcome tonight,” said coach Mathis. “There towards the end we went to the ‘bend-but-not-break-mentality’ and it worked out to our benefit.”
The Warriors were led Saylors who rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. McClain also led the Marion County rushing attack with 84 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Marion County rushed for 245 yards and added 267 total yards in the win over Austin-East.
With the victory against the Roadrunners, Marion County advances to the Class 2A State Championship for the third season in a row. The Warriors are set for a revenge-ladened rematch with Trezevant next Saturday, Dec. 3 at Tennessee Tech University where kickoff is set for 11 AM sharp.
And the Warriors are sure to be thankful for an early wake-up call in Cookeville.
MCHS — 14 | 21 | 0 | 0 || 35
AEHS — 0 | 0 | 0 | 21 || 21
1st (6:23) Hunter McClain, 9 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 7, Austin-East 0.
1st (2:15) Isaiah Sampson 14 yard pass to Kane Hale, [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 14, Austin-East 0.
2nd (8:17) Jacob Saylors, 3 yard rush [McElroy Kick No Good]
Marion County 20, Austin-East 0.
2nd (4:47) McClain, 1 yard rush [McElroy Kick Good]
Marion County 27, Austin-East 0.
2nd (2:32) Sampson, 1 yard rush [Saylors 2 point conversion good]
Marion County 35, Austin-East 0.
4th (8:33) Darius Harper 31 yard pass to Kashif Warren, [Hakizimana Kick Good]
Marion County 35. Austin-East 7.
4th (6:20) Harper 31 yard pass to Warren , [Hakizimana Kick Good]
Marion County 35. Austin-East 14.
4th (3:53) Harper, 5 yard rush [Hakizimana Kick Good]
Marion County 35. Austin-East 21.