[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

HALLSVILLE -- It was a struggle at times for the Hallsville Bobcats to move the ball on Friday night.

Khalil Sneed picked up enough when it mattered, however, helping the Bobcats hold on for a 21-19 victory over Marshall in a pivotal District 15-5A opener at Bobcat Stadium.

Trailing by two, the Mavs took possession at their own 13-yard line with 9:59 remaining.

Marshall put together a 14-play drive that consumed nearly seven minutes of clock, converting two key third downs behind the arm of Justin Hart, setting up a first-and-goal at the 7. A negative play and two short gains set up a 25-yard attempt for Alan Martinez, but the junior kicker's attempt was wide left.

Hallsville (3-1, 1-0) took over with just 3:18 remaining and Marshall (2-2, 0-1) had no timeouts. Sneed was able to pick up 28 yards on the next three carries, getting a first down in the process, which allowed the Bobcats to run out the clock.

Marshall's Cameron Haller runs through the arms of Hallsville's Jacob Taylor during their game Friday night in Hallsville. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

The 5-7, 160-pound senior back was a workhorse on the night against a stout Mavericks defensive front, picking up 119 hard-earned yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.

“He ran hard,” said Hallsville coach David Plunk. “That was a hundred tough yards, they’re very tough defensively and he earned every yard tonight. If he can get 100 yards on that team, he’s gonna have a very special year from here on out."

Sneed’s TD from a yard out just before the end of the third quarter gave the Bobcats a 21-13 cushion and provided the only second-half points for Hallsville.

Marshall wasted little time responding, thanks to sophomore standout Cameron Haller.

Haller, a 5-10, 185-pound quarterback used in rotation throughout the night with Hart, was a load for the Bobcats to try and bring down.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Haller broke to the outside, then cut back across the field untouched for a 67-yard TD run -- his second of the night -- to cut the lead to 21-19.

Marshall's Justin Hart rolls out for a pass during the Mavericks' 21-19 loss at Hallsville on Friday night. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

The ensuing two-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the end zone.

Haller finished the night with 13 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns, providing a solid 1-2 punch with Deondre Osborne, who finished the night with 78 yards on just nine carries.

The Bobcats got the victory, their fourth in a row against the Mavs, despite being outgained 335-178 and completing just 5 of 16 passes for 21 yards.

The Bobcats, however, committed just three penalties and didn’t turn the ball over.

The defense bent at times but didn’t break, especially on the Mavs' final drive.

“They gutted it out and fought hard; that’s all it was," Plunk said. "Marshall is a really good football team. I knew they were good, but they were better than I thought -- better up front on both sides of the ball. We had a lapse where they took control of the game in the second and even the third quarter. We got lucky and they missed the field goal at the end and fortunately we got the win.” 

The first half was controlled for the most part by the Bobcats, who had the ball for nearly 16 minutes.

Marshall’s opening play of the game was fumbled away at its own 12-yard line, with Ben Dewoody making the recovery for the Bobcats.

Marshall's Deondre Osborne runs past a Hallsville defender during their game Friday night in Hallsville. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

It took Hallsville just two plays to find the end zone, as consecutive 6-yard runs by Sneed and quarterback Wyatt Wolverton put the Bobcats on the board in just over a minute of game time, 7-0.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Bobcats' offense returned to the field.

The two-man QB system of Wolverton and Roger McCuller was effective early, along with Sneed on the ground moving the ball. Nick Branch’s first carry of the night, an 18-yard run, put the ball inside the 5-yard line. Branch punched it in from a yard away to put the Bobcats ahead 14-0 quickly.

The Mavericks' defensive front wreaked havoc on the Bobcats' line late in the first half, forcing four negative plays on a drive that ended with a punt, one that got the Mavs back in it.

Trel Patton received a punt at his own 40-yard line surrounded by Bobcats and took off up the left sideline to the end zone, cutting the Hallsville lead in half, 14-7.

Marshall suddenly had life, and after forcing another punt, the Mavs started at their own 31 with 2:11 remaining until the half.

Haller needed just one play, finding the outside and outracing everyone for a 69-yard TD. The extra point failed and Hallsville took a 14-13 lead into halftime.

Marshall hosts Pine Tree next Friday, while the Bobcats hit the road to take on Texas High. 

Hallsville's Wyatt Wolverton scrambles into the end zone for a touchdown during the Bobcats' 21-19 win over Marshall on Friday night in Hallsville. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Hallsville 21 Marshall 19

At Bobcat Stadium, Hallsville

Marshall        0      13       0          6    --     19
Hallsville      14       0        7          0    --     21

First Quarter
HAL – Wyatt Wolverton 6 run (Mason Beatty Kick) 10:56
HAL – Nick Branch 1 run (Beatty Kick) 5:38
Second Quarter
MAR – Trel Patton 60 punt return (Alan Martinez Kick) 3:55
MAR – Cameron Haller 69 run (Kick failed) 1:58
Third Quarter
HAL – Khalil Sneed1 run (Martinez kick) :11
Fourth Quarter
MAR – Haller 67 run (2-PT failed) 11:45

                                  MAR               HAL
First Downs                12                   13
Total Yards                335                 178
Rushes-Yards           31-251           44-157
Pass Yards                 84                   21
Comp-Att-Int             11-21-0          5-16-0
Penalties-Yards         7-65                3-25
Fumbles-Lost             1-1                  1-0
Punts-Avg                  3-23                6-29

RUSHING – Marshall, Cameron Haller 13-169, Chavis Mills 4-5, Deondre Osborne 9-78, Justin Hart 2-(-2), John Love 3-1. Hallsville, Khalil Sneed 24-119, Wyatt Wolverton 7-(-8), Roger McCuller 10-25, Nick Branch 3-21.
PASSING – Marshall, Hart 11-20-0--84, Haller 0-1-0--0. Hallsville, Wolverton 3-10-0--31 McCuller 2-6-0--(-10).
RECEIVING – Marshall, Osborne 2-(-3), Love 4-40, Jaquavian Dabbs 3-39, Deonte Jordan 2-8. Hallsville, Jamil Young 3-29, Sneed 2-(-8).