Thursday, September 7, 2006
MA drops heartbreaker to nemesis North Delta
By BARRY BURLESON
Any loss hurts but this one stung a little deeper.
North Delta, a long-time nemesis on the football field for Marshall Academy, caused heartache for the Patriots once again Friday night. The visiting Green Wave rallied from a 14-0 deficit and beat MA 16-14 on a 28-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the non-district contest.
“I could feel their disappointment, and I was disappointed,” head coach Wade Griffin said about his post-game talk to his Patriots. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the locker room. North Delta has dominated this series for a long time. But I’m so proud of these guys and where they’ve come from.
“Both teams played hard, and yes, we should have won the ball game. But what transpired in the second half is fixable. I know we’re better (than last year) but we’ve got to learn to finish. I love these guys, and they’re all I had on my mind all weekend.”
Marshall marched 64 yards to the end zone on its opening possession of the game. Taylor Dempsey ran for a first down, Brent Adams threw 27 yards to Wesley Harris for another, and Tyler Sanders carried for a first to the Green Wave 18. One play later Sanders traveled 16 yards for six points. The extra point try failed.
The defense put the Patriots in business for their next points. Jake Paylor grabbed the quarterback by the ankles, forcing a fumble, and teammate Spenser Autry recovered at North Delta 12.
Later Adams and Justin Gray hooked up for the 8-yard touchdown pass. Sanders ran for the two-point conversion, and MA was up 14-0 with 9:31 to go in the second period.
Late in the half, Autry sacked North Delta’s J.T. Dalrymple for a big loss, plus the quarterback got flagged for intentional grounding. But on fourth down, the Green Wave faked the punt, and Dakota Mabry looked to be clogged up in the middle but broke outside for a 49-yard touchdown run. Dalrymple’s extra-point kick cut the deficit to 14-7.
“No one was asleep (on the faked punt),” Griffin said. “We just didn’t get it done. It was an unacceptable thing. We’d play well up to that point, and it was almost like someone flipped a switch.”
The Green Wave kept the momentum to start the third quarter, driving into Marshall territory, thanks in large part to a successful reverse play. Later, with North Delta facing a third and five, Adams intercepted a pass in the end zone to halt the try for points.
The Green Wave was back in business soon when the Patriots had trouble with the snap from punt formation, and the visitors took over at the MA 30.
But once again Marshall got a break later in the possession when North Delta fumbled and Taylor Dempsey recovered in the end zone.
On MA’s next series, Sanders had a long run into North Delta territory but it was called back for holding. The third quarter ended with Marshall punting and the Green Wave returning it to the Patriots’ 33.
North Delta converted two fourth down plays on its 67-yard drive for points, the first after an offsides flag on MA on fourth and six made it an easier fourth and one and the latter being Dalrymple’s quarterback sneak for the touchdown. After an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on the Green Wave, they decided to try for the two-point conversion and failed. MA led 14-12 with 8:11 to go in the game.
Adams returned the kickoff 25 yards to midfield. Later he kept the ball for a first down to the North Delta 27. But the drive stalled when pass tries on third and fourth down failed.
The Green Wave took over with 3:45 to go. Once again, they converted two fourth down plays, one on another quarterback sneak and the other on a pass when facing fourth and 11. MA looked to have the game won when Sanders picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards to the North Delta 35. But the Patriots were flagged for interference. Another penalty in the drive, this one on MA for unsportmanlike conduct, pushed the ball to the 11.
On third down, with 13 seconds left, Dalrymple booted the 26-yard field goal for the come-from-behind win.
MA rushed for 117 yards, led by Sanders’ 15 carries for 66 yards. Dempsey carried 17 times for 43 yards. Adams was four of 10 passing for 68 yards, plus the touchdown and two interceptions, one coming on a desperation pass to end the game. Harris had three catches for 55 yards. Gray had the other catch for the score.
North Delta gained 156 yards rushing and 24 passing.
Leading the Patriot defense were Autry with eight tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery, Paylor with nine tackles, Chase Samples with eight and Hunter Bolden with seven.
“Our guys did a lot of good things but we made some mistakes,” Griffin said. “Six sophomores started on defense.”
This week Marshall (1-1) enters district play by hosting unbeaten Delta. The Raiders have beaten West Memphis 34-6 and Strider 40-0.
“They feature a ton of formations, and their quarterback does a good job,” Griffin said.
He addressed his players about the challenge ahead at a Monday morning practice.
“Don’t drop your chins,” he said. “You have a great opportunity this weekend. We can’t make the mistakes we made last Friday and be successful. Let’s put that one behind us, and look forward.”
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