Thursday, August 30, 2007
blank Cougars in opener
By BARRY BURLESON
Winning the season opener is always big. When it’s a district game, it’s bigger.
Marshall Academy dominated Lee (Marianna, Ark.) Friday night at home, 34-0, to start a new campaign in fine fashion.
“It’s good to get off on a winning track,” said Keith Wicker, who claimed victory in his first game as the Patriots’ head coach. “It was a district win, too, and all of those, of course, are extra important.”
In a rare scheduling twist, two of the next three are also district games. That includes a trip to Grenada to meet defending state runner-up Kirk Academy Friday night. Kirk beat Class AA Magnolia Heights 10-7 last week.
“I believe Kirk is better this year than last,” Wicker said. “I know our kids are excited about the opportunity. We will buckle up and play.”
The new-look Marshall offense rolled up 402 yards versus the Cougars last Friday. MA had 303 yards rushing and 99 passing.
Taylor Dempsey led the ground work with 16 carries for 139 yards. Quarterback Brent Adams was six of nine passing for 99 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Wesley Harris was on the receiving end of all of those tosses.
“I think we executed pretty well,” Coach Wicker said. “but we made a lot of mistakes, too.”
The Patriots were plagued by penalties – five coming in the first quarter.
“That has to stop,” Wicker said.
Lee mustered just 119 yards, 50 rushing and 69 passing, against a stingy Marshall defense.
“I thought we played well defensively,” Wicker said.
Landen Fennell was the main man defensively. He had seven tackles and two sacks. Dempsey also had seven tackles.
MA picked off five passes – three by Adams and one each by Tyler Childers and Will Thomas. Adams and Justin Gray also had a sack each.
Adams’ first interception came on the first play of the game.
Marshall then drove 51 yards for a touchdown on its first offensive possession of the season. On a third and long, Adams threw to Harris for 31 yards to the Lee 8. Three plays later the two hooked up again, this time for a 5-yard touchdown. Adams’ extra point kick put MA up 7-0 early.
That score stood until midway through the second quarter. Thomas’ interception put the Patriots in business at the Lee 34-yard line. It took the offense four plays to score. Childers raced 17 yards around left end for the six points. Adams’ kick made it 14-0.
Marshall closed its first-half scoring with a 10-play, 78-yard drive. Dempsey picked up two first downs and Tyler Sanders another. The big one was a 27-yard pass from Adams to Harris. Dempsey got the touchdown on a 4-yard carry, and Adams added the extra point for a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Patriots iced the victory with another scoring march to open the second half. Adams got it started with a 37-yard kickoff return to the Lee 43. Dempsey did most of the ground work on the drive. Then with Harris shifting to quarterback, he handed off to Adams, who carried 4 yards for the score. Adams’ fourth extra point kick upped the advantage to 28-0 at the 7:23 mark of the third.
Marshall’s final points came midway through he fourth quarter. Sanders bounced off a couple of would-be tacklers and darted 53 yards to the end zone. The extra-point try was blocked.
This week the attention turns to Kirk, a team which fell one win short of a Class AA championship last year.
“Kirk is a very sound team,” Wicker said. “They make no mistakes. And they play great defense.
“We have to have a good week of practice and go down there and give it all we’ve got.
“Our kids know who good we can be. The potential is there, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Grenada.
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