The star: Blake Zeman ran 28 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
Next up: Marion County (10-2) travels to second-ranked Trousdale County (11-0).
At times, football can be a game of inches. Unless Marion County's Blake Zeman is involved, then it's a game of chunks.
Zeman rushed for 173 yards on 28 carries, scored three touchdowns and led Marion County to a 28-7 win over Boyd-Buchanan in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs Friday night.
The Warriors (10-2) advance to play at second-ranked Trousdale County (11-0) next week.
Friday's victory closed a very difficult week for the Marion County program. An assistant coach was charged with vandalizing his own school's property in an effort to motivate the Warriors against county rival South Pittsburg.
Marion County coach Mac McCurry was overwhelmed with his team's ability to remain focused on football.
"I could not be more proud of these young men,'' he said. "It's a testament to their character. They battled through all the clutter and distractions surrounding them this week and just focused on playing football.
"We challenged them all week to persevere and focus, and that's exactly what they did,'' McCurry added.
It did appear early as though the week's events might be a distraction.
After scoring on their first possession to make it 7-0, the Warriors watched Boyd-Buchanan's Austin Jackson tie the game on a 95-yard run with 1:01 left in the first quarter. That remained the score at halftime.
The second half was all Warriors.
Marion County reeled off back-to-back time-consuming drives to open the second half and a 21-7 lead. The first score was capped by Hamilton Shoemaker's 4-yard dive at the 6:41 mark, and Zeman's 21-yard run closed the quarter.
In all, the Warriors gained 267 yards rushing in the second half.
"We challenged them at halftime to be more physical,'' McCurry said. "Boyd-Buchanan played really well in that first half, and we knew that if we didn't get our ground game going, we were in for a long battle. The kids responded.''
Marion County closed with 380 yards rushing. In addition to Zeman's 173, Deion Riley added 75, Chandler Willis 51 and Shoemaker 44.
Boyd-Buchanan wrapped its season with a 4-7 record. The Bucs put up 256 yards rushing, led by Jackson's 143 yards on 11 carries.
"It's a tough way to end,'' Bucs coach Grant Reynolds said. "We played well in the first half, but give them credit, it wasn't much of a contest in the second half.''
Marion County defensively was led by Zeman, who had multiple tackles for loss. Clay O'Shields intercepted a pass and Hayden Tudors recovered a fumble.
Contact Greg Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org