Thursday, September 20, 2007
Patriots suffer first loss
By BARRY BURLESON
Keith Wicker didn’t see the same Marshall Academy football team Friday night he had watched the first three weeks.
“I thought we were ready to play, but we weren’t,” said the MA head coach. “The defense really let me down. We didn’t play hard.”
The Patriots lost their first game of the season, 30-12, on the road to district foe Indianola Academy. They’re 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the district. The Colonels are 3-1 and 1-1.
Marshall has two district games left - October 5 versus Lee (Clarksdale) and October 26 versus Carroll.
“That Clarksdale game now is huge,” Wicker said.
The Patriots never led Friday at Indianola. The Colonels’ star running back, Ryan Lester, cranked up his big night with a 47-yard touchdown run on IA’s first offensive play. Michael Gresham added the extra point with 9:50 to go in the first quarter.
MA responded, starting with Tyler Childers’ 38-yard kickoff return. Four plays later quarterback Brent Adams was hardly touched as he scampered 40 yards to the end zone. The extra-point kick was no good. MA was down 7-6 with 7:16 left in the first.
Then the Colonels drove 61 yards in just eight plays. Lester had the biggest play in the march, a 19-yard run to the MA 24. Dylan Yates scored the touchdown from 5 yards out. Gresham’s kick upped the lead to 14-6 with 3:50 still left in the first.
The Patriot defense, on its heels much of the night, limited the home team to a field goal midway through the second quarter. Gresham’s kick was good from 29 yards out with 6:43 left until half.
The Patriots got some spark on the ensuing kickoff. Childers returned this one 65 yards to the IA 25. But the Patriots couldn’t cash in. They fumbled on a fourth and 2 from the 17.
Indianola outgained Marshall 146 yards to 46 in the first half and led 17-6.
The Patriots had their chance to turn the momentum to start the second half. Tyler Sanders’ onside kick was successful, with Adams recovering, and MA was in business with a first and 10 at the Colonels’ 49.
“We talked about it (the onside kick) at the half,” Wicker said. “We saw it earlier in the game, that it would be wide open.
“But then we still didn’t make anything happen. We didn’t punch it in.”
MA, aided by a personal foul flag on Indianola, moved to the 21. Then the Patriots were flagged for two 5-yard penalties and ended up punting the ball away. Tyler Sanders’ boot pinned IA at its own 1-yard line.
The Colonels ran two plays and then benefitted from four straight Marshall penalties - three of the 15-yard variety and one 5-yard. The Colonels suddenly had a first down at the Marshall 28.
This time the Patriot defense showed some fire, particularly Justin Gray. He had back-to-back tacklers for big losses, forcing Indianola to punt.
“Justin (Gray) was the one on defense who really shined,” said Wicker, who named the senior the most valuable player for the game.
The Colonels padded their lead midway through the fourth quarter. Lester did most of the work on the 55-yard drive, including the 5-yard touchdown run. Greshams’ kick made it 24-6 with 6:18 remaining.
But the Patriots didn’t quit. Adams threw to Hunter Bolden for an 18-yard gain and then Childers ran for 34 yards to the IA 18. Three plays later Adams tossed to Wesley Harris, who made a nice catch in the corner of the end zone. The extra-point try was blocked. Marshall trailed 24-12 with 4:27 left.
Indianola responded quickly and put the big district victory on ice. Lester broke loose and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked. The 30-12 final was on the scoreboard.
“Penalties, trying to live off the week before (the school’s first win over Magnolia Heights in 10 years) and the fact we couldn’t tackle number 24 (Lester), it all added up,” Wicker said. “We started out on the short end of the stick and it got shorter.”
Indianola finished with 276 yards rushing. MA had 101 yards on the ground, 61 of that from Adams. The Patriots passed for 88 yards, 40 of that coming on its last possession of the game.
Gray was the top tackler for MA. He had 11 tackles and one sack. Taylor Dempsey and Bolden had seven each and Landon Fennell six.
The Patriots travel to Batesville this Friday night for a non-district game versus North Delta. The Green Wave is 3-1, coming off a 20-0 win last week over Calhoun.
“We have to bounce back and play hard,” Wicker said.
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