The annual Murray Bank Crosstown Classic began as anything other than a football game, as fans from both teams filled up majority of Stewart Stadium to support their respective teams, with each group knowing, however unfortunately, there could only be one winner.
That winner was the Murray Tigers, who pulled off a 35-7 win over rival Calloway County to move to 2-0 on the season, and take home the traveling helmets that adorn the top of The Murray Bank Trophy for the fourth consecutive year.
Murray head coach Steve Duncan said the team’s win came mainly from the play of the offensive and defensive lines.
“I have to mention their names, Darius Catlett, Willie Richardson, Jacob Baron, Seth Carter, Will Langford, Dan Miller, Alan Kiuri, and tight ends Kade Cullop, Dylan Upchurch and Austin Knapp allowed us to just run right at them, we don’t pretend.” Those players cleared room for 305 yards of offense on the ground alone. Add in quarterback Dylan Boone’s 1-2 passing night for 35 yards, the Tiger O-line was accountable for 340 yards of total offense, however as usual, the coach found things that could be improved upon.
“That’s a big line,” Duncan said, “They did good, but then we started making mistakes, our center to quarterback relation (was rough) and we’re are going to have to get a lot more reps on that, and that will help a whole lot. I was really pleased with how we stayed with blocks early, and how we stayed with people and we were able to find holes for some nice runs.”
The Tigers got rushing attempts from nine different backs, and Dante Howard led the night with a pair of touchdowns, as well as 130 yards on just 14 carries for a 9.3 average.
Howard’s second touchdown of the night came on a 25-yard power rush that had the senior carrying several Laker defenders to paydirt.
Duncan said this is the first year for Howard to tote the ball for the Tigers, but wishes he would have put him in the backfield in previous years.
“(Last year) I was kicking myself, saying why did I not put him at running back,” Duncan said, “but he looked pretty good, especially when he drove about two or three guys into the endzone.”
The Tigers had the Lakers’ number last night, as Calloway struggled to make anything happen, quarterback Tyler Greer was sacked four times, picked off twice, and went 14-28 for 107 yards. Duncan said the Tigers secondary was strong on their coverage, and the defensive linemen were playing fast enough to capitalize on the extra time in the pocket.
“That’s a tough offense, and Greer is good,” Duncan said about the opposing team, “but (thanks to the coverage) we some (linemen) that missed him and then caught him, and that’s what Caldwell didn’t do, but they are a very good team.
“Our defense played great, the freshman, Des’Jahvanni Miles, had the interception early, they were going to test him out, and he goes up and gets it, Peyton Glynn and Trey Hornbuckle, also were big, we started three freshmen tonight.”
The Tigers got good numbers from all the defensive players as well, as Catlett had 10 tackles and three sacks, Andre Phillips had the other pick to go with three tackles. Senior LaBront Scott had four tackles and a fumble recovery on a chance play where the ball went through the intended receiver’s hands and to another Laker receiver, but Scott’s hit popped the ball loose and it had gone through six hands before the Western Kentucky commit came down with it.
On the Calloway side of things, head coach Brad Lawson said after the game that he did not have his team as prepared as they should have been for this game and they got out-physicaled by the Tigers.
“They are more physical than we are, and I was afraid of that,” Lawson said, “We tried some different things on offense, tried some different things on defense, and they were better up from than we were. I’m not saying our front is not good, they were just better than we were tonight.”
The Lakers had trouble with the heavy rushing attack of the Tigers, even though when a team plays Murray High, they know to put nine in the box and prepare to stop the run, and as Duncan said, they don’t hide the fact that they’re going to run.
Lawson said the team that played on last night was not the same team from a week ago, and it is now on him as the coach to make sure he can prepare the Lakers for Massac, Il., next week.
“I’ve got to look myself in the mirror and figure out what we did last week to win, and what we did this week to lose,” Lawson said. “I understand this is an important game for the fans and community, and I’m still proud of our kids, I thought they played hard, but (Murray) took advantage of some size matchups that we had, but I’m not disappointed, but the matchup problems up front gave us a lot of problems.”