Hallsville ekes out close win over Marshall

Reid Glenn Columbia Daily

HALLSVILLE – You like offense? Hallsville has had plenty of that this season.

Going into Friday’s game against Marshall, the Indians averaged 44.2 points per game, and they needed everything their offense could produce as their Week 6 matchup came with a whole new set of complications.

Hallsville was supposed to play Southern Boone, and Marshall was originally scheduled to play Moberly, but the Owls canceled on the Spartans after the Marshall School District went all virtual. Moberly added Battle to its schedule before the Marshall School Board voted Thursday night to allow activities to continue while classes go virtual, which led the Owls to arrange the game with Hallsville.

“The biggest thing – it’s tough because you’re working on one day, really less than 24 hours of prep time,” Hallsville coach Justin Conyers said. “We picked this game up (Thursday) night at 7:30 p.m. (Marshall) coach (Adam Huse) and I hoped that it was going to work out on their end with them being able to play, so we exchanged film about midday on Thursday. Trying to figure out a whole new opponent in less than 24 hours and have your kids prepped … it was the third time this has happened to us this year.”

Hallsville met the challenge the best way it knows how: a high-powered and gritty performance to beat the Class 4 Owls in a close 28-26 victory.

The Class 2 Indians offense quickly flexed its muscles in the first quarter when junior quarterback Tyger Cobb and sophomore running back Harrison Fowler marched down the field to score in just under four minutes.

Conyers’ defense did not look too hot to start, though. In fact, every single drive in the first quarter ended with a touchdown. Both teams went back and forth. The only difference was the Indians converted on both of their 2-point conversion attempts. Neither of Marshall’s extra-point attempts resulted in points, with a blocked kick after its first score and an incomplete 2-point conversion attempt on its second.

The first quarter ended with the home Indians up 16-12.

Even when it looked like the Owls had the Indians where they wanted them, pinned back on their own 45 on third-and-25, Cobb delivered a dime to senior receiver Ryan Roberts, rocketing the ball through the Marshall defense for a 55-yard passing score, increasing the lead to 10.

The touchdown looked like it kicked the Indians’ defense into gear, as they delivered the first stop of the game on the following drive midway through the second quarter.

After halftime, however, Marshall slowed the Indians significantly.

The teams traded punts until Cobb finally punched through to score with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

“I think they did a really good job of starting to figure out schematically what we're doing,” Conyers said of Marshall. “We're a no-huddle offense, and in that one drive in the third quarter, we took it down to score. We went into what we call a cubby huddle, because they were hearing play calls and our plays.

“So we had to kind of slow the game down a little bit, which I think is what led us to stalling a little bit.”

The game looked all but out of reach at 28-12. The Owls weren’t ready to give up, though, and scored on the ensuing drive to open the final quarter.

The Indians turned to ground and pound, relying on Fowler rushing up the middle to eat up time.

After forcing a turnover on downs, Marshall completed four quick passes in a row for large chunks of yardage. First, an 11-yard gain, then another 17 yards, 18 yards and 8 more yards.

And then – interception.

That interception still wouldn’t seal the deal for the Indians, however.

The Owls threatened with a pick-six and 2-point conversion to pull within two points, a safety away from a tie and a field goal away from a victory.

After a failed onside kick, the Indians went into victory formation to run out the clock and seal the win.

“Going through the week, with the game getting canceled, it was weird in practice,” Fowler said. “Everyone's not practicing as hard and just kind of doing the moves and just not really going hard. Learning the day before that they're gonna play the game, it's kind of hard to get in that mindset, but I think we did pretty good this weekend.”

The Indians’ next game is scheduled for next Friday at Blair Oaks.