Thursday, October 27, 2005

Inspired Patriots lose in overtime


Wade Griffin had only words of encouragement for his Marshall Academy Patriots after a disappointing overtime loss to DeSoto School Friday night.

His team, short-handed with the loss of four starting offensive linemen due to academic guidelines, fought adversity and came up just short, 26-20, against the Thunderbirds. It was the final home game of the year for MA.

“I was proud of you last week (a strong effort against highly-ranked Lee), but I’m more proud of you tonight,” Coach Griffin said at game’s end with his Patriots huddled around him. “I know you’re disappointed, but no heads down. You played your hearts out.”

The game was knotted at 20 at the end of four quarters.

Marshall got the ball first in overtime, and fumbled the ball away on the second play.

“We missed the exchange (from quarterback to running back),” Griffin said.

DeSoto, on its chance from the 10-yard line, scored in four plays. Ian Campbell plunged into the end zone on fourth and goal from the 2.

“A lot of guys left the locker room very emotional,” Griffin said, “and I appreciate that caring.

“It was a real hard week to prepare. We tried to fix some holes in the boat real quick, and I’m proud of what we did.”

The Thunderbirds, led by former Marshall coach Bill Beck, used a 76-yard drive in the first quarter to take the lead. Two big pass plays gobbled up the bulk of the yardage. Campbell scored from one yard out. Zach Haas threw to Michael Lewis for the two-point conversion.

DeSoto added to its advantage at the 10:05 mark of the second quarter. Quarterback Charles Roscopf found an open Haas behind the MA defense, good for 51 yards and six points. The extra-point kick was no good. It was 14-0.

Later in the quarter, Brent Adams’ interception and 10-yard return led to Marshall’s first points.

The Patriot offense used pass plays from Justin Gray to Tyler Sanders and Gray to Thomas Rodgers, a first down run by Sanders and a couple of penalties on DeSoto to reach the visitors’ 11-yard line. From there, Gray threw to Sanders for the touchdown, and Sanders kicked the extra point.

DeSoto led 14-7 at the half.

The Thunderbirds got a break midway through the third quarter to take the lead. Heath Gregory picked up an MA fumble and returned it eight yards for a score. The extra-point kick missed the mark.

The Patriots battled back from the 20-7 deficit.

Sanders, who carried 24 times in the game for 67 yards, did the bulk of the work in MA’s next drive for points. He scored on a one-yard carry. The extra-point attempt was blocked with 1:23 to go in the third quarter.

The MA defense rose to the occasion, and the Patriots got the ball back with 9:38 left in the game.

Gray, who was seven of 17 passing for 109 yards on the night, threw for his second touchdown, this one 35 yards to Rodgers along the left sideline. Rodgers, who caught five passes in the contest for 86 yards, broke one tackle on his way to the end zone. Sanders tied the game at 20 with his extra-point kick.

Adams’ second interception of the night ended DeSoto’s hopes of winning it in regulation. He returned it 20 yards to the MA 48-yard line.

The Patriots had a final shot in the fourth but were forced to pun with just over a minute left.

“There’s more to winning in this game than numbers on the scoreboard,” Griffin said. “Last week was a big challenge, and I appreciate these kids. I can see we are getting better and growing up some.”

The statistics were as close as the game. MA had 202 yards total offense (109 passing and 93 rushing), while DeSoto had 201 (111 rushing and 90 passing).

Leading the Marshall defense were Blake Work with 13 tackles and a sack, Rodgers with 12 tackles, Adams with eight tackles and the two interceptions and Joe Cunningham with six tackles.

Marshall (2-8) travels to North Delta (7-3) this Friday night to wrap up the season.The Green Wave beat Bayou Academy 54-27 last week.

“I expect these guys to answer the bell again and step up,” Griffin said. “I think they’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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