PREVIEW: Marshall Travels to Nac, Seeking Fifth-Straight Win
DISTRICT 9-5A DIVISION II
Marshall Mavericks (5-2, 4-0)
Nacogdoches Dragons (3-4, 2-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches
- Marshall: Claude Mathis
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Marshall: vs. Whitehouse, Nov. 2
- Nacogdoches: at Hallsville, Nov. 2
Players to watch
- QB JJ Green, Jr., 6-4, 170 (92 of 162, 1,524 yards, 23 TDs, 6 INTs; 62 carries, 409 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Tahj Washington, Sr., 5-11, 168 (25 catches, 446 yards, 8 TDs; 10 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD)
- WR Savion Williams, Jr., 6-5, 203 (22 catches, 365 yards, 6 TDs; 5 carries, 23 yards)
- WR De'Kendrick Bender, Sr., 6-2, 196 (20 catches, 396 yards, 7 TDs; 17 carries, 217 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Treylin Lewis, Sr., 5-10, 178 (67 carries, 429 yards, 2 TDs; 2 catches, 28 yards)
- S Champ Mathis, Sr., 5-10, 189
- OL Christian Hood, Sr., 6-1, 294
- LB Brevin Randle, Sr., 6-0, 215
- RB Tarance Swindle, Sr., 5-8, 190 (43 carries, 467 yards)
- QB Jake Smith, Jr., 6-3, 185 (104 of 185, 1,654 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INTs)
- WR Jatavious Deckard, Jr., 6-0, 198 (24 catches, 512 yards)
- WR Karlus Flanagan, Sr., 5-7, 140 (37 catches, 495 yards)
- RB Camorian Thacker, Soph., 5-5, 160 (88 carries, 394 yards)
- LB Jonathan Pitts, Sr., 5-10, 203 (50 tackles, 1 QB pressure, 1 fumble recovery)
- DB Ke’undre Deckard, Jr. (9 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- DL Brad Williams, Sr., 5-11, 200 (38 tackles, 8 for loss, 5 sacks, 1 QB pressure, 1 blocked kick)
Just the facts
- Marshall is outscoring district opponents by an average of 28 points per game.
- Marshall is averaging 39.6 points and 452.6 yards per game -- 224.3 rushing and 228.3 passing.
- Mavericks junior quarterback JJ Green has accounted for 61 percent of his team's total yards and 26 of 36 offensive touchdowns.
- Marshall is allowing 28.7 points per game on the season, but just 19.3 in district.
- Nacogdoches' two district wins against Jacksonville and Pine Tree have come by a combined five points.
- Nacogdoches is averaging 33.1 points and 404.2 yards per game -- 167.9 rushing and 236.3 passing.
- Dragons junior receiver Jatavious Deckard is averaging 21.3 yards per catch.
- Nacogdoches is allowing 39.1 points per game on the season.
Key matchup: Nacogdoches passing attack vs. Marshall secondary. It seems unlikely that Nacogdoches, which allows 39 points per game, will shut down or even disrupt one of the most explosive offenses in East Texas. So when Nacogdoches has the ball, it needs to make all of its possessions count. And while the trio of Tarance Swindle, Da'torian Thacker, and Camorian Thacker have combined to rush for well over 1,000 yards this season, Nacogdoches must be able to match Marshall's big-play capability with its own explosive nature in the passing game.
Nacogdoches junior quarterback Jake Smith has actually outpaced Marshall counterpart JJ Green in passing yardage this season, while taking better care of the football. Smith has 17 touchdown passes to just two interceptions in 185 attempts. Smith also has a compliment of speedy receivers that's been burning opposing defenses all season. Jatavious Deckard averages more than 21 yards per catch, while Karlus Flanagan leads the team with 37 receptions.
Marshall's defense has had its issues this season, allowing almost 29 points per game, but is coming off its best performance of the year in a 38-0 shutout of Jacksonville. The Mavericks limited Jacksonville to just 65 yards in a driving rainfall last Friday night. No one is expecting a shutout this week, but another defensive performance like the one vs. Jacksonville, and it's hard to see Nacogdoches having a chance in this one.
Don't be surprised if: Marshall continues to pile up the points. As noted earlier, Nacogdoches defense has had its struggles this season, and against less high-powered offenses than Marshall. Green is putting together an all-state caliber junior season with 1,933 yards and 26 touchdowns of offense through his team's first seven games. And he's getting plenty of help from his trio of Division I recruits at receiver. Tahj Washington, De'Kendrick Bender, and Savion Williams all have at least 20 catches, 365 yards, or six touchdowns. Nacogdoches must make a few plays on defense, including forcing two or three turnovers, to give itself its best chance to pull the upset.