The Ashland High football team has shown it can up-shift in a hurry when it needs to, and the Grizzlies did it again Friday night.
Ashland scored two touchdowns in the last 48 seconds of the first half to spark a huge turnaround en route to a 52-21 Midwestern League victory over Marist at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Tucker Atteberry, who passed for 321 yards and four touchdowns, tossed a 40-yard touchdown strike to Oliver Warren late in the first half to give the Grizzlies a 10-7 lead after the point-after kick. The fans barely had time to catch their collective breath before Atteberry picked off Reow Jackson's pass on Marist's next possession and raced 48 yards to the end zone untouched.
Ashland (3-1 overall, 2-0 MWL) carried the momentum shift into the third quarter, turning each of its first three possessions into quick touchdowns to stretch its lead to 38-14 in the third quarter. The theatrics included a 67-yard touchdown bomb to Warren, who got behind the secondary and caught the perfect pass in stride, a 63-yard touchdown pass to Nicky Weinberg and a 35-yard touchdown pass to Weinberg.
"The first 20 minutes of the game I was really disappointed with how we were executing, how we weren't tackling, how we were dropping balls," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "But it wasn't like we had a great halftime talk, because they did it themselves. It didn't require me to go into halftime and raise the roof because they just showed to each other that they can do that when they put on that pressure and play with a sense of urgency."
Warren had five catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Weinberg six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns for the Grizzlies, who had 417 yards of total offense.
Marist (0-4, 0-2 MWL) looked like it would surprise everybody and challenge the Grizzlies after Mitchell Hopkins scored on a 5-yard blast early in the second quarter. The Spartans had a golden opportunity to pad its 7-3 lead right before the half but couldn't capitalize on a first-and-10 from the Ashland 10. Jackson's fourth-down pass from the 4 never had a chance, and Ashland took over on downs with 2:27 left.
Atteberry's 10-yard pass to Warren on third-and-10 from the Ashland 35 kept the drive alive, and two plays later Atteberry found Warren near the sideline and the sophomore standout faked out a defender and ran the rest of the way for the score. Warren's clutch play capped a nine-play, 96-yard drive that required only 1 minute, 39 seconds.
"(Atteberry) and (Weinberg) are as good as any athletes we've had around here and when they're on the field things go a lot better," Hall said.
Warren also had an interception for the Grizzlies, who travel to face Springfield next week. Also for the Grizzlies, Myles Montgomery had a team-high 13 tackles, Weinberg and Zack Haldane had seven tackles apiece and Ashland had four sacks.
For Marist, Jackson completed 9 of 17 passes for 184 yards and also rushed for 68 yards. He also picked up a fumble by teammate Drew Lara and took it 45 yards for a touchdown that cut Ashland's lead to 24-13 with 5:24 to go in the third.
Marist's Mitchell Hopkins rushed for 74 yards.