Thursday, September 1, 2005

Chiefs strike quickly, dominate Marshall


The downhill ride Friday night for the Marshall Academy Patriots started with the opening kickoff.

Hunter Ferguson of Magnolia Heights returned the kick 80 yards for a touchdown, and the Chiefs rode the early momentum to a 41-8 win over the Patriots.

“By giving up the kickoff runback to start the game, we let our wheels start to wobble,” head coach Wade Griffin said, “and from there it was downhill.

“We took a step backward from what I saw in preseason practice, in the jamboree and against Rossville (a 26-7 win in game one of the season). I saw things Friday night that are not taught and completely unacceptable.”

He praised the football program of Magnolia Heights, a school about twice the size of Marshall enrollment-wise. The Chiefs have a 36-man roster, and the Patriots 17.

“They have a solid program,” Griffin said. “That’s what we want. That’s the direction we want to go.”

The MA defense, after the early kickoff return, rose to the occasion later in the first half, stopping the Chiefs twice on fourth downs, once at the Patriot 4-yard line.

Magnolia Heights’ second score came on a 30-yard interception return by Kyle Collinson at the 10:51 mark of the second period.

The home team then went to the air for its next two touchdowns, both completions from Collinson to Richard Chaney. The first covered 37 yards and the next 24 yards.

Tim Hayden was successful on three of four extra point kicks in the first half for a 27-0 Magnolia Heights lead.

The Patriots threatened late in the half. Quarterback Justin Gray ran for a first down and then threw 37 yards to Thomas Rodgers for another at the Chiefs’ 11-yard line. The drive stalled at the 3.

MA’s Houston Dodson then intercepted a pass to end the first half.

The first of two interceptions on the night by Magnolia Heights’ J.T. Lomenick put the Chiefs back in business to start the second half.

On the first play after the pickoff, Jeffrey Reed darted up the middle for 37 yards and six points. Hayden’s kick was good.

A Marshall fumble set up the Chiefs’ final touchdown of the night. They recovered at the MA 35-yard line and scored in four plays. Jonathon Redd did the honors from the 4-yard line. Hayden’s kick made it 41-0 with 8:36 left in the third quarter.

The Patriots responded with their lone scoring drive of the night. Gray and Rodgers hooked up on pass plays for two first downs. Blake Work scored on a 2-yard plunge up the middle. Gray then threw to Jarvis Holloway for the two-point conversion.

The Chiefs crowded the line of scrimmage and basically shut down the Patriots rushing attack. The leading rusher from a week ago, Tyler Sanders, suffered a concussion in the second quarter. Forced to the airwaves, Gray was 14 of 34 passing for 133 yards.

Defensively, Holloway, Rick Looney and Jake Paylor had eight tackles each. Dodson followed with six.

“We’re young,” Griffin said. “We watched the film (Sunday afternoon) and showed them their mistakes. We’re not good enough to do the things we did and compete against the Magnolia Heights of the world.

“I know this group has enough character to bounce back. We have to hold on to that character and work out way out of this.

“We just didn’t get it done. This group is not down, and I think they will respond.”

Spenser Autry missed the game due to injury. Other players are also banged up, including Cody Anglin, Looney, Gray and Blake Work.

MA (1-1) travels to Bayou Academy (1-1) in Cleveland this Friday night for its first District 1-AA game of the season. The Colts beat Marvell, Ark., 28-13 in week one and then lost 36-14 to Lee (Ark.) last Friday night.

“Bayou is throwing nearly every down from the spread formation,” Griffin said. “We’re likely looking at some inside preparation this week (due to Hurricane Katrina), but we’ll make do. We have to regroup. If we cross our Ts and dot our Is, we can be 2-1 after Friday night.”

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