By Jeff Rancudo
Hope peaked its pretty little head around the corner and teased Murray County Friday night in its Region 7-2A battle against Chattooga.
Chattooga (1-4, 1-1 Region 7-2A) pounded out a 56-13 victory but the game was well within Murray County’s (1-4, 0-2) reach in the first half, despite 155 yards rushing from Chattooga’s Tevin Shropshire.
Murray’s Austin Gossett recovered Jose Ruiz’s well-crafted onside kick near the end of the second quarter, and Murray drove all the way to the Chattooga 11-yard line. Only behind 28-13, Murray seemed poised to make the game close, but as happened several other times, the drive stalled on downs and Murray came away with no points.
With Chattooga’s offensive plowing over Murray for 338 total yards rushing (Shropshire gaining 197 of those on 18 carries), Murray need a fast start and got it but the team could not make it stick. Jug Smith hit Petee Waldon for a 30-yard touchdown pass and Ruiz kicked Murray to a 7-0 lead with 7:43 left in the first quarter.
But Murray would never lead again. Spencer Baggett caught an 11-yard pass from Smith to give them their only other touchdown with 2:56 left in the second quarter, but the Devan Byers blocked the point-after try by Ruiz.
Murray played hard throughout the contest. Murray was playing with a new man at center in Seth Gilbert (who Murray coach Chad Brewer praised) but Murray lost its long snapper, Jordan Walls, for the game when he suffered a high ankle sprain on its first drive midway through the first quarter. Murray’s no-quit attitude was evident in post-game comments from Chattooga coach Clay Livingstone, but it wasn’t enough against a Chattooga defense that allowed Murray only 106 yards rushing (93 coming from the Murray quarterback Smith).
”We executed really well,” Livingstone said. “But Murray plays so hard. They got hit pretty hard with North Murray (opening). But if they stick to it, it’ll come back to what it was. We are fortunate to have good athletes. This is Shropshire’s first week back full speed.”
Brewer was pleased to see Murray “battling the whole first half. But I guess we’ll look at the film on our defense to see what happened. I’m proud of our guys. Jug is tough and he’s getting better and better.”
Chattooga quarterback Isaac Foster ran for an 8-yard touchdown to tie game 7-7 in the first quarter and CHS reeled off three more scores before halftime as Shaun Lawrence scored from six yards out in the first quarter, Shropshire dashed for a 17-yard score in the second quarter and Dee McCutchins hauled in a 17-yard TD pass from Foster with 5:36 to go before halftime.