October 20, 2005

Patriots fight hard in loss to No. 3 Lee

Sports Editor

The state’s third ranked Academy AA team, Lee, left Patriot field with a win Friday night, but Marshall unleashed an impressive touchdown drive to open the game and had one of its best efforts of the season.

“We got beat by 30 points (48-18),” said MA head coach Wade Griffin, “but I believe we can build on this. I saw improvement. I saw some competition. No one has hit their quarterback (Jesse Spinks) like we hit him. Our kids haven’t rolled over.”

The Patriots dropped to 2-7, while Lee improved to 7-1. It was a big night for the Marshall ground game. Tyler Sanders carried 25 times for 159 yards, and Blake Work six times for 81 yards.

“We had blocking up front – hats on the right people,” Griffin said. “All I’ve asked all season is that we bring our preparation in practice under the lights on Fridays.”

MA drove 66 yards to the end zone after receiving the kickoff. There were several key plays in the march, the biggest being a 23-yard run by Blake Work to the Lee 31. Tyler Sanders scored the touchdown from three yards out. The extra point try failed.

“We came out on that first drive and did a lot of good things,” Griffin said. “As far as our offensive linemen, I was very pleased with what I saw.

“Our offense is a tale of progress. If we establish a little bit somewhere, then there’s Part II, III and IV. They had to bring more folks in the box, and that gave us some opportunities to pitch and catch.”

Forester threw for 54 yards, all to Thomas Rodgers.

But the Colts showed why they are one of the premier programs in the state. They responded.

After MA’s unsuccessful onside kick attempt, Lee completed a long pass to the Patriot 9. Spinks was later hit for a 2-yard loss on third down. Then on fourth and goal from the 8-yard line, he threw to Chad Foster for the score. Derrick Soldevila kicked the extra point for a 7-6 advantage.

Marshall’s next two offensive possessions went three downs and out, one coming after Forester picked off an errant Spinks pass.

Lee added one more touchdown late in the first quarter. It came on a 59-yard punt return by Mark Noland. Soldevila’s kick was again good.

The Colts increased their lead to 28-6 at the half. Noland scored on a 21-yard run, and Spinks and Josh Peal teamed up on a 23-yard pass play for six points. Soldevila added both extra points.

“Before the half I saw us struggling a bit,” Griffin said, “but again, we didn’t quit.”

The second half started with a bang for the Patriots. Rodgers recovered a fumble, and then he caught a 7-yard touchdown toss from Forester. MA’s try for more points after the score failed.

Lee again responded. The Colts scored 20 third-quarter points. Touchdowns came on a Hunter Foldren’s 3-yard run, a 38-yard interception return by Bo Crumpton and 62-yard pass from Spinks to Foldren. Soldevila was two of three on the extra point tries.

Marshall’s final score of the evening came in the fourth period on a 50-yard run by Sanders. The try-for-two was unsuccessful.

Rodgers led the MA defensive effort with 10 tackles, plus a sack and the fumble recovery. Work had nine tackles, and Brent Adams and Paylor had seven each. The Patriots had two interception, the one by Forester and another by Jarvis Holloway.

“We tackled much better,” Griffin said. “Even on their big plays, defensively we had people there to make the play.”

Again, his teams continues to show progress this Friday night when DeSoto, Ark., comes to town for the Patriots’ final home game of the season.

“You’re only as good as your last time under the lights,” Griffin said, “and we hadn’t done anything in quite a while. I hope this effort will carry over.

“I like the kids we have in this program. I’m not looking over my shoulder and wishing we had 45 players. I was taught to play with what you have now, and they’re going to work hard, and they’re going to be held accountable.”

The Thunderbirds are led by Bill Beck, who coached MA in the 2003 season. They’re 5-4 after routing Rossville, Tenn. 44-8 last Friday night.

“Coach Beck does a tremendous job,” Griffin said. “They’re border line as far as making the playoffs (in Academy A). He likes to run the ball, and they have some quick skilled people.

“He lost a lot of players from last year, so for them to be where they are is admirable for Coach Beck.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Patriot Field. It will be Senior Night.

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