Thursday, October 13, 2005

Patriots drop contest in Arkansas


Head coach Wade Griffin said his Marshall Academy Patriots are simply not passing the test after the learning process in practice.

“When are we going to flip the switch?” asked Griffin, reflecting on a 26-6 loss Friday night at West Memphis, Ark. “We’re doing stuff we’re not taught, and that’s unacceptable.”

Griffin said he was most disappointed last week with the play of his offensive line.

“They (West Memphis) had the odd front, and we’ve seen that all year,” he said. “I don’t understand it - too many errors.”

The Black Knights scored on their first two possessions to take a 12-0 first quarter advantage. The first touchdown came on a 17-yard run and the second on a 60-yard dash. Both extra point tries failed.

The Patriots responded.

Quarterback Justin Gray threw a quick strike over the middle to receiver Will Forester, who scooted to the end zone to complete the 60-yard scoring play. The extra point kick was wide of the mark.

MA followed that with two big defensive stands, the latter backing West Memphis up to its own 9-yard line.

But the Patriot momentum was squelched midway through the second when Gray went down to injury on a Black Knights’ interception return. There was an approximate 30-minute delay as an ambulance came onto the field and transported Gray to a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.

“He has a strained muscle in his neck,” Griffin reported Sunday night. “It looked worse than what it was. He could squeeze my hands (when he was down on the field). We had to take every precaution. He will be out of practice for a few days, but we think he will be good to go (this Friday night).”

MA forced a fourth and 18 and a West Memphis punt.

The Patiots then put together a nice drive that fell just short of points before the half. Forester, who shifted to quarterback, connected with Thomas Rodgers for back-to-back first downs, one play for 32 yards and the other for seven. The march reached the 4-yard line. The Patriots were then flagged for a false start and faced first and goal from the nine. Four straight pass attempts fell incomplete.

Marshall had 104 yards passing and 22 rushing at the half - trailing 12-6.

An MA fumble led to more points for the Black Knights. The home team recovered at the Patriot 20-yard line and scored on a run from there with 9:09 to go in the third quarter. A pass try for the two points was incomplete.

The two teams swapped punts the rest of the third and early in the fourth.

The Patriots looked to have a couple of last hopes.

First they had the Black Knights backed up to their own 10, but let them escape thanks to a 44-yard pass play.

“They’re not known to be a good throwing team, but we let them complete that long pass and get out of a hole,” Griffin said.

Then midway through the fourth a snap sailed over the head of the West Memphis punter. But the punter picked up the ball, scrambled and found an open receiver for a big gain and first down at the Patriot 9. A couple of plays later West Memphis iced the win with a 2-yard touchdown plunge. The try-for-two was successful.

“We had a punt block on, and for them to be able to retrieve the ball and get a throw off just doesn’t make sense,” Coach Griffin said.

Gray was three of six passing for 66 yards. Forester was eight of 31 for 145 yards. Rodgers caught five passes for 102 yards and Forester two for 66.

Marshall had just 46 yards rushing, 20 of that coming from Rodgers.

Defensively, Rodgers and Spenser Autry had 12 tackles each. Jarvis Holloway followed with 11, while Blake Work had nine, and Jonathan Allen 10. Autry and Wesley Harris had fumble recoveries.

“At times, we hit well,” Griffin said. “I don’t think we rolled over, but I certainly see the errors we’re making.”

The Patriots host perhaps the toughest team on their schedule this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. District foe Lee Academy is 6-1 after a 33-0 rout of Class AAA Washington School last week.

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