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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Meigs County's Benjamin Smith (8) and Daqwan Tatum stop Marion County's Rylee Rogers for a loss Friday night.

JASPER, Tenn. — Meigs County senior Da'Quawn Tatum told his football coach at practice during the week he would be ready to step up and shut down Marion County's attack.

Tatum and the Class 2A's top-ranked Tigers did exactly that as they remained perfect at regular season's end and won the Region 3 title — their fifth straight league championship — with a 20-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Marion on Friday night. The host Warriors had no answer for a tough-nosed defensive line that overpowered their offensive line and chased down ball carriers to the outside edge.

"We played with power and really blew things up," the 6-foot-1, 250-pound Tatum said. "We saw before this game where everyone was picking Marion to win, and it really got us heated. We believed in ourselves and the way we play football, and we came in here and took the game over from the start. This is a great team, and I have no doubt we are one of the top two in the state."

Ben Smith warned fourth-ranked Marion (8-1, 4-1) earlier in the week via an interview that the Tigers (9-0, 5-0) were coming to hit them in the mouth early and often. The senior running back and defensive lineman backed up his words by carrying defenders with him for 37 rushing yards on his team's opening drive.

Smith also put the Warriors away when he made a fantastic diving catch in the middle of the end zone for a 14-yard score on a pass from Logan Carroll on fourth-and-3. The Tigers led 20-0 with 4:28 left in the third quarter and would not budge the rest of the way.

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Meigs County vs. Marion County

"We wanted this more than they did," said Smith, who totaled 91 yards (50 rushing, 41 receiving) on 12 touches while also providing a key block on a 25-yard touchdown run by Carroll as well as making big hits on defense.

"The energy we had right out of the gate was perfect. We came out and punched them in the mouth and stayed on them the whole game. We have a special group, and every game with this team means so much to me."

Triple-threat senior Cameron Huckabey set up Meigs' first score with 1:34 left in the first quarter. The talented receiver and defensive back who also does it all on special teams returned a bouncing punt down the right sideline 52 yards to help set up Carroll's short score.

Carroll was a bulldog on the ground as he embraced the tough yards while initiating contact. The Meigs quarterback carried the ball 21 times for 111 yards and two scores, and he completed big 27- and 14-yard passes to Smith.

Marion could not find a breakthrough on a night when it was pushed around on both sides of the ball. A four-headed backfield led by Taye Hutchins, Alex Condra, Rylee Rogers and Sam Pickett never made it past the Tigers' 27-yard line.

Meigs' Jackson Shaver had an interception with seven minutes left to help secure the region title. Marion is second in the region.

"We won the game up front," Tigers coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "Both lines did a great job. When you watch Ben Smith play, he is one of the best football players on the field every Friday night. He is a 4.0 student and had a 32 on the ACT and really knows the game and how to execute. Da'Quawn also is a kid who steps up and makes an impact in every big game. He told me he would, and he sure did tonight with all of our kids."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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