Shawnee rallies in 4th quarter to top Thurgood Marshall

Shawnee wide receiver Hayden Lawhorn and lineman Eli Wade celebrate Lawhorn’s 28-yard touchdown catch from Robie Glass in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game against Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED

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Shawnee wide receiver Hayden Lawhorn and lineman Eli Wade celebrate Lawhorn’s 28-yard touchdown catch from Robie Glass in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game against Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED

Shawnee expected to play strong defense and struggle on offense in its opener Saturday night against Thurgood Marshall at Welcome Stadium. But when the defense needed a lift, the offense produced.

Late in the third quarter, the Braves gave up the big play when Marshall quarterback Ayyoub Muhammed threw a 59-yard strike down the middle of the field to Jaylen Zachery to take the lead. Suddenly it was up to the offense.

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Two possessions later the Braves mounted a 69-yard drive that carried them to a 19-16 victory over the Cougars, establishing senior Jack McCrory as a power rusher and sophomore quarterback Robie Glass as a drive finisher.

“We kept battling,” Braves coach Rick Meeks said. “I’m pleased with that.”

On the winning drive, McCrory ran for 38 yards to the 3-yard line highlighted by his hurdling of a defender at the 12. After a five-yard penalty, Glass faked a handoff to McCrory and ran eight yards around the left end for his first touchdown and the winning score.

“It’s definitely good, but now we’ll be moving forward,” McCrory said. “We’ve just got to progress throughout the season and beat Tipp next week.”

The Braves won despite three turnovers and several offensive penalties that helped turn Marshall’s defense loose at times.

“It was sloppy and ugly, but we got a W,” Meeks said. “And obviously we’ve got a lot of stuff we can complain about on film to keep these guys grounded.”

Marshall second-year coach Brian Carter has a big and athletic team, but he has only seven seniors.

“They put forth a hundred percent effort, and so with that you can’t be mad as a coach,” Carter said. “You live to play games like this.”

Glass put the Braves up 6-0 in the second quarter with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Lawhorn. His 66-yard run to the 3-yard line set up Matt Jarzab’s touchdown in the third quarter that put the Braves up 12-8. McCrory thought Glass would score, but he was tackled from behind by Zachery.

“I had the hand up and everything,” McCrory said. “I was ready for it.”

Glass completed 7 of 18 passes for 45 yards and threw three interceptions. He rushed for 81 yards.

“He’s still definitely young body, young mind, but when he starts reading certain things his athleticism takes over,” McCrory said.

McCrory carried 17 times for 129 yards to help Shawnee outgain Marshall 266-194. He also teamed with fellow linebacker Tanner Vanvelzor and ends Billy Lord and Jackson Smith to lead an experienced defense.

“Our defense has been playing well, just a couple breakdowns here and there,” Meeks said. “The D-line played great. Our ends and backers are extremely good.”

Marshall drove to the Shawnee 12 and 3 in the first quarter, but didn’t score.

“Offensively, we’ve go to finish eight-minute drives in the end zone,” Carter said. “Defensively we missed a couple of assignments. The guys understand you can play hard all day but you miss two assignments and it can cost you in the long run.”

The Cougars did show resilience. After falling behind 6-0, V’sean Palmer returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and a 8-6 halftime lead. Muhammed’s touchdown pass in the third was the first play after Shawnee took a 12-8 lead on Jarzab’s touchdown.

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