Thursday, October 19, 2006
MA gives up late score, falls 13-6 to Raiders
By BARRY BURLESON
Yellow flags plagued the Marshall Academy Patriots on Friday the 13th.
MA was penalized 10 times for 105 yards in a hard-fought 13-6 loss to non-district foe Kirk Academy. The Raiders scored with 21 seconds to go in the game to steal the win.
“They (Kirk) had a difficult time slowing us down, and then the yellow flags would come out,” said Wade Griffin, head coach of the Patriots. “It was very disappointing. I’ve never pointed a finger at officials. It seems we got something cooking and pretty consistently and then got a flag 15 or 20 yards behind the ball-carrier.”
On its initial possession of the game, MA drove 47 yards to the Kirk 6, but couldn’t convert on a fourth and nine.
The defenses of the two teams flexed their muscles on the next few series.
On the first play of the second quarter Marshall picked up big yards on a reverse and could have had a first and goal inside the Raider 10. A clipping penalty put the home team facing third and long from its 45. A punt followed.
On its next possession MA was flagged for a personal foul and ended up facing a fourth and 25.
Kirk took possession at the Marshall 48 and cashed in the short drive for points. Blake Poe carried for a chunk of yards, and then the Patriots were flagged for a face mask, pushing the ball to the 15. Andrew Nobile then threw to Toole Garrison for the 15-yard touchdown. The extra point try missed the mark.
Late in the second a nice Patriot gain for a first down was nullified by a holding flag that pushed the ball back to the 48 and translated into a third and 19, which they couldn’t convert.
“With all the yellow flags, it gets to a point where you do something productive and start looking around,” a frustrated Griffin said. “I’m not whining, but it’s turning into a cancer. It’s a momentum killer. You could see we were moving the ball on them.
“But we can’t make excuses. We can’t allow those yellow flags to become a distraction. We have no control over the officiating. Kirk has a fine team, and I don’t want to take anything away from their kids.”
On Marshall’s first possession of the second half, it drove some 63 yards to the Raider 4. Following the next running play to the 2, the Patriots were flagged for a personal foul.
“We were knocking on the doorstep, and the kid who runs the ball gets up excited,” Griffin said. “We get a flag. I didn’t get an explanation.”
Fortunately, this time MA overcame the infraction to tie the game. On fourth and long, Brent Adams threw to Hunter Bolden over the middle of the field for 18 yards and a first down at the Kirk 1-yard line. Taylor Dempsey, who ran 31 times on the night for 110 yards, got the touchdown from there with 8:14 to go in the third. The point-after attempt was blocked.
The Patriot defense stepped up again two minutes later, stopping the Raiders on a fourth and one.
“We definitely hit with them,” Griffin said.
Bolden led the defensive effort with nine tackles. Chase Samples had eight tackles and a sack, followed by Dempsey with six tackles and Justin Gray with five.
Four punts, two by each team, followed.
Then near the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the two teams swapped fumbles, with Adams recovering Kirk’s miscue at the MA 39.
With 5:26 to go in the game the Patriots failed to convert on a fourth and long one. They had trouble on the snap, recovered and tried to push forward enough but couldn’t. It was short by just a couple of inches.
“We didn’t get a good exchange and put the ball on the ground,” Griffin said. “We have to take care of the football.”
Kirk then drove 60 yards for the game-winning points. Stan Woods was the workhorse. He got the touchdown on a 3-yard carry with 21 ticks left. Harper Houston kicked the extra point.
“We let them run the ball that last drive, and they got down there and scored,” Griffin said. “I’m very, very pleased with the guys’ effort. I thought we had worked hard enough to win. I told our guys, ‘You deserved to win the ball game.’
“It was another tight one that got away. We’ve seen that before this year. We have to finish. I know we’re improving. I know we’re going in the right direction.”
Adams was seven of 18 passing Friday for 88 yards. Wesley Harris was the top receiver with 68 yards on four catches.
A playoff spot is on the line this week when the Patriots (4-4) travel to Clarksdale Friday, Oct. 20, to face Lee Academy (4-3). The winner secures a spot in the postseason.
“It’s a big game for our program, and I know they guys will be excited,” Griffin said. “Lee has another strong team. This is for the playoffs; this is the way it ought to be.”
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