Would-Be Fumble Looms Above Marshall’s 35-34 Loss to Huntsville
FRISCO -- Walk into Claude Mathis' postgame speech without context, and it sounds like the typical coach trying to console his team after a tough loss.
"You guys did not lose this game," Mathis shouted as teary-eyed players hung their heads in a huddle.
Anybody who watched the game between Marshall and Huntsville on Saturday in Frisco, however, knows Mathis' words are more than some trite motivational speech.
The Mavericks lost to Huntsville, 35-34 in a 5A Division II Region III semifinal. There are plenty of reasons why. They scored a touchdown with seconds remaining and opted to try a two-point conversion instead of going for the tie. JJ Green threw five interceptions in the second half.
But as many plays as there are to blame for the loss, one looms above it all.
With 7:49 to play, Huntsville took its first lead of the game on a 1-yard touchdown run from Jaeryne Green. As the Hornets (12-1) celebrated the touchdown, the replay on the monitor showed the ball leave Jaeryne Green's hands before he crossed the goal line and a Maverick player scoop it up in the end zone.
If instant replay were allowed, the call might have been reversed. However, UIL officials are enabled with instant replay only during the state championship games. As the crowd watched the replay, boos filled the stadium from Marshall fans.
“It was taken from us," Mathis said. "You can’t take nothing from Huntsville. I’m not even talking about them. They’re going to try to say he broke the plane. He didn’t. The ball was out before he crossed the goal line. It showed it straight up on the video board. It was unbelievable the way the game was called tonight. I can’t get over it.
“Everybody saw the jumbo screen. Everybody saw the fumble. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Even after watching the play, Marshall mustered a quick response. The Mavericks scored on a 57-yard pass to a wide open Tahj Washington just 30 seconds later to tie the game at 28.
Huntsville took the lead again after Jaden Schroeder came away with his third interception of the night. He returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to put the Hornets back up, 35-28 with 3:52 remaining.
After Marshall's ensuing drive stalled out, its defense came up with a stop on third-and-6 to give the offense one more chance. With just more than a minute remaining, the Mavericks began their march downfield.
A few plays later, JJ Green hit Washington for a 19-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left. Instead of sending Eva Vera out for his fifth extra point attempt of the evening, JJ Green led the offense out to try for two. His pass was deflected and Huntsville recovered the onside kick the next play, sealing the game.
“We knew the way the game was going and the way they were calling the game, we figured we had to go for two," Mathis said. "We had (a lot of) penalties. That right there determined my decision to go for it. We talked about it and our minds were made up. Our kids wanted to do it. We felt that we had a chance to win the ball game.”
Mathis also pointed to questionable penalty calls as another barrier the Mavericks (10-3) had to climb. Although they did see 15 penalties for 119 yards, Huntsville also saw its fair share. The Hornets had 13 penalties for 130 yards.
Huntsville moves on the the 5A D-II Region III final, where it will face Fort Bend Marshall.
Washington finished the game with six catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns to lead all players.
Although his team lost in heartbreaking fashion, Mathis said he was proud of the way his players responded.
“We’ve changed the culture in Marshall," he said. "Our kids fight until the end. They understand that they’re gonna have to play four quarters. It’s a bond. It’s a family. It’s a chain. We don’t break that chain. When we got down, they knew we still had a chance to win the game. They gave me everything tonight.”
Huntsville 35, Marshall 34
Class 5A Division II, Region III Semifinal
At Ford Center, Frisco
Marshall 7 14 0 13 – 34
Huntsville 0 7 14 14 – 35
MAR – Demarcus Williams 80 pass from JJ Green (Evan Vera kick), 2:23.
MAR—Savion Williams 16 pass from Green (Vera kick), 9:52.
HUN—Jaylon Griffin 8 pass from Matthew Southern (Nathan Batten kick), 4:30.
MAR – Tahj Washington 30 pass from Green (Vera kick), 1:48.
HUN—Quaterian Riles 10 pass from Southern (Batten kick), 10:39.
HUN—Jaeryne Green 7 run (Batten kick), 1:20.
HUN—Green 1 run (Batten kick), 7:49.
MAR—Washington 57 pass from Green (Vera kick), 7:20
HUN—Jaden Schroeder 30 interception return (Batten kick), 3:52.
MAR—Washington 19 pass from Green (two-point conversion failed), 0:13.
First Downs 11 14
Total Yards 328 274
Rushes-Yards 32-37 23-13
Passing Yards 291 261
Comp.-Att.-Int. 14-32-5 25-40-0
Punts-Avg. 5-34.2 8-32.9
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-1
Penalties-Yards 15-119 13-130
RUSHING—Marshall, JJ Green 16-25, Dominique Williams 4-12, Demarcus Williams 4-4, Tahj Washington 3-1, Jakobe Mitchell 1-0, DeKendrick Bender 1-0, Treylin Lewis 2-(-1), Brevin Randle 1-(-4). Huntsville, Jaeryne Green 17-30, Mike Jenkins 1-2, Matthew Southern 5-(-19).
PASSING— Marshall, Green 14-32-5--291. Huntsville, Southern 24-39-0--232, Nathan Batten 1-1-0--29.
RECEIVING—Marshall, Washington 6-149, Demarcus Williams 2-85, Savion Williams 5-51, Jakobe Mitchell 1-6. Huntsville, Jaylon Griffin 5-95, Tyrique Carter 4-49, Green 4-47, Miles Tatum 4-38, Jenkins 2-14, Quaterian Riles 1-10, Cameron Myers 2-9, Will Barnes 3-(-1).