MARSHALL -- It was time for Claude Mathis to dance.

Basking in the aftermath of a 37-13 victory against Whitehouse, the Marshall coach jumped at the center of a circle of his players. He bumped shoulders, echoed victory cries and exited to a flurry of handshakes and hugs.

The Mavericks clinched the District 9-5A Division II championship with the win. They remained in control all evening, entering halftime with a 23-0 lead. As it has the past three weeks, Marshall looked like a team that is clicking at the time were it is absolutely crucial to click.

With one week left until the playoffs, the Mavericks look prepared.

“There were a lot of distractions coming into this ball game," Mathis said. "I thought our kids did a great job of handling it. We were flat a little bit at first, but once they got it going, we executed. It was a great time to watch our kids play and execute.”

Marshall (7-2, 6-0 District 9-5A D-II) got the scoring started in an unconventional way.

Whitehouse lined up to punt near its own end zone, but as the punter took the snap, Brevin Randle zoomed in. He got a hand on the ball as it left the punter's foot, sending it sailing to the back of the end zone and out for a safety. The Mavericks followed that with a 14-yard pass from JJ Green to Savion Williams in the left corner of the end zone exactly one minute later.

That set the tone for the evening. Marshall's defense smothered the Whitehouse (6-3, 4-2) offense throughout the first half. The Wildcats entered halftime with just 27 yards and one first down. Marshall caused quarterback Flint Herrington, who entered the game as East Texas' second leading passer, to look apprehensive. It held Whitehouse to only 30 yards rushing.

Although the Wildcats eventually scored late in the second half after Marshall let up, they couldn't overcome the poor start.

“Our defense is playing with a lot of swag right now," Mathis said. "Our guys don’t want to give up any points. When you can get a defense that don’t want to give up any points, we’re going to play a long time. They get pissed off when they give up points. They’re playing with a pissed off attitude and you’ve got to have that when you play in the playoffs.”

Although the defense stood out, the offense was equally impressive. It was the usual suspects, as Green finished with 237 total yards and three touchdowns. Marshall's star receivers -- Williams, DeKendrick Bender and Tahj Washington -- each had at least one touchdown either by reception or on the ground. Washington finished with 97 yards receiving to lead the group.

It was a play that set up a touchdown that stood out from the rest, however.

In the middle of the second quarter, Marshall found itself in the red zone on the verge of another touchdown. The Mavericks decided to pull out a new play. They sent several players to the right side to clear space for a swing pass to offensive lineman Christian Hood.

As Hood caught the ball, he ran quickly to the left, the tip of the ball nearly breaking the plane of the goal line at the end of his outstretched arm. He was ruled a yard short and Bender finished off the drive with a touchdown run on the next play.

“I saw open field," Hood said. "I saw one man to beat. I just didn’t get it. Just one yard. I helped the team. Put us in a good position to score a touchdown. That’s the bigger picture.”

Mathis had a different view.

"He should’ve scored," he said, laughing. "I’m gonna give him a little heckle for that. It’s just wonderful to see our seniors play here.”

Whitehouse will look to bounce back when it hosts Hallsville for its senior night at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Marshall closes out district play against Pine Tree at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Longview. The Mavericks can finish unbeaten in district play with a win.

“It’s not off our shoulders yet because we want to finish this thing off," Mathis said. "We’ve got a streak going and we want to stay undefeated in district play. We have a lot to play for next Friday night. We don’t give out freebies.”

Marshall 37, Whitehouse 13

At Maverick Stadium, Marshall

Whitehouse         0    0    6    7    --    13
Marshall        9     14   0   14        –    37

First Quarter
MAR – Brevin Randle blocked punt for safety, 3:20.
MAR -- Savion Williams 14 pass from JJ Green (Angel Menditea kick), 2:20
Second Quarter
MAR – DeKendrick Bender 1 run (Menditea kick), 6:36.
MAR – Tahj Washington 12 run (Menditea kick), 0:20.
Third Quarter
WHI – Kendrion Johnson 13 catch from Flint Herrington (two-point failed), 1:15.
Fourth Quarter
MAR -- Williams 5 pass from Green (Menditea kick), 8:00.
WHI -- Cameron Johnson 30 pass from Herrington (Cooper Clemons kick), 4:49.
MAR -- Green 24 run (Menditea kick), 2:21.

                                           WHI                   MAR
First Downs                          15                        4
Total Yards                           171                   339
Rushes-Yards                  22-30               35-171
Passing Yards                       141                  168
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 13-30-1              13-22-1
Punts-Avg.                       3-39.0                4-33.8
Fumbles-Lost                         0-0                  0-0
Penalties-Yards                     8-68              9-105

RUSHING—Whitehouse, Jaden Haskins 13-28, Jordan Hernandez 3-16, Cameron Cantrell 1-1, Michael Raabe 1-(-1), Cooper Clemons 1-(-5), Flint Herrington 3-(-9). Marshall, JJ Green 12-69, Demarcus Williams 7-37, Treylin Lewis 5-22, Tahj Washington 3-15, Dominique Williams 3-13, DeKendrick Bender 3-9, Jakobe Mitchell 2-6.
PASSING—Whitehouse, Herrington 13-30-1--141. Marshall, Green 13-22-1--168.
RECEIVING—Whitehouse, Kendahl Fry 4-46, Kendrion Johnson 5-45, Cameron Johnson 1-30, Cantrell 2-11, Jaden Haskins 1-9. Marshall, Washington 6-97, Bender 3-36, Savion Williams 3-24, Christian Hood 1-11.

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