The Thurgood Marshall players chanted, “It’s all good! It’s all good,” as they celebrated a 34-14 victory over Alter on Friday at Centerville High School.
Marshall coach Earl White approached his jubilant team with a phrase heard over and over again as the final seconds ticked away, “Way to respond!”
The response was to this question: What would the Cougars do after a disappointing 58-55 loss to Chaminade Julienne in Week 2? Marshall led that game 14-0 and 21-3 before losing a scoring shootout to a team it beat 69-10 the previous season.
In this game, the Cougars again had a great start, dominating Alter for a 14-0 halftime lead. They also had a great finish, outscoring the Knights 13-7 in the fourth quarter after Alter twice cut the deficit to seven points.
“Everyone was kind of down last week,” White said. “Our kids just responded. We try to tell them all week it’s not about the result, it’s about the journey. The journey is us being together. Win, lose or draw, we’re going to be together and stay together. I’m happy they responded the way they did.”
Alter (2-1) gave up a total of 17 points in its first two games. Turnovers hurt Alter in this game.
A fumble in the first half set up Marshall’s second touchdown drive. A fumble in the third quarter led to Marshall’s fourth touchdown. A late interception by Marshall’s Orlando McCall sealed the victory and led to the final score of the game.
“I thought we did some very good things on defense throughout the course of the game,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “We were able to establish some things in that third quarter. There was some promise. At least it looked as though we would turn things around.
“You can’t make those mistakes. You always hope that when you’re going against Thurgood because of how well they play their offense and how their defense played tonight, too, that they might might make a few and they made a couple, but not nearly like we did.”
Marshall’s early success had a lot to do with its success on fourth down. It converted two fourth downs on its way to scoring on its first drive. The first was a somewhat gutsy call on fourth-and-1 from their own 46. The second, on fourth-and-goal from the 1, resulted in a touchdown by quarterback Jamahl Manley.
Marshall punted on its second possession, but extended its lead to 14-0 on its third drive, scoring again on fourth down. This time, Manley threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to D’Arco Thompson on fourth-and-6.
Touchdown runs by Dusty Hayes and Tommy Ruff kept Alter in the game in the second half, but a touchdown run by Thompson and Manley’s second touchdown pass to Brian Carter Jr. put the game out of reach.