Thursday, November 15, 2007
Patriots pound Panthers
By BARRY BURLESON
It’s been proven, defense wins championships. The Marshall Academy Patriots hope their showing on that side of the football Friday night is a sign of things to come.
MA opened the Class AA state playoffs by limiting Canton Academy to 141 yards, intercepting three passes, one for a touchdown, and picking up a fumble and returning it for another score. The result was a 41-7 pounding of the Panthers on Patriot Field.
“It’s time to start stepping it up (defensively),” said head coach Keith Wicker, whose team improved to 10-1. “We forced some turnovers. We had good pressure. Hey, I will take points anyway we can get them.
“I think our defensive line played outstanding. We have to keep doing that throughout (the playoffs).”
Wesley Harris picked off three passes, one for a score, and on special teams he returned a punt for six points. He was selected for player of the game honors. Jake Paylor “had his best defensive game of the season,” Wicker said. He had nine tackles.
Next up for the Patriots is a quarter-final game at home this Friday versus Kirk Academy. Marshall beat the Raiders 7-6 in week two of the season.
“It was hard to beat them the first time, and it will be harder this time,” Wicker said.
Last Friday’s first round game was scoreless until late in the first quarter. MA put together a four-play scoring drive that started with a first and 20 from its own 46. The big play was a short toss from Brent Adams to Tyler Childers, who made a cut and then bulled his way for more yards. The play totaled 35 yards to the Panther 8. Adams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, and he kicked the extra point.
The Patriot defense forced Canton to punt on ints next possession. Harris caught the ball at his own 28 and dashed along the right sideline for 72 yards and six points. The extra-point try failed. It was 13-0 with 9:39 left in the first half.
The Panthers used its biggest run of the night, a 27-yard carry by quarterback Kyle Warren, to reach the Marshall 18. Then a little trickery try on the next play backfired. Harris intercepted the flea-flicker pass and returned it 66 yards to the Canton 24.
It took four plays for the Pats to add more points - all runs by Adams. The quarterback scored on a 4-yard keeper. His extra-point kick upped the lead to 20-0, which stood until the half.
The Patriot defense stepped up again early in the second half. Paylor hit Warren for a 4-yard loss. Justin Gray sacked him for an 8-yard loss. Then the Canton QB fumbled and Hunter Bolden scooped it up and raced 35 yards for a score. Adams’ kick made it 27-0.
Harris’ next interception led to more points. He returned this one 33 yards to the Canton 21. On second down, a 5-yard flag pushed MA back to the 24.
Adams and Childers hooked up through the air for 19 yards and first and goal at the 5. Adams got the touchdown on a 1-yard sneak. His kick made it 34-0 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
Then Harris wrapped up the MA scoring by picking off his third pass of the evening and returning it 79 yards for a touchdown. Adams’ fifth extra-point kick of the night gave MA a 41-0 advantage, still with 25 seconds left in the third.
Canton avoided the shutout with 1:13 to go in the game. Warren threw to Davin Reibock for the 26-yard score. Flavio Toledo added the extra point.
Marshall totaled 271 yards on offense - 166 on the ground and 105 passing. Adams had 58 yards rushing. He was six of 12 passing. Childers had four catches for 78 yards.
Other top tacklers were Bolden and Childers with six each and Landen Fennell with five.
Next up is Kirk (8-4), a district rival that beat Manchester Academy 24-15 last week in round one. Senior Brian Bowman scored the Raiders’ three touchdowns and also kicked a 37-yard field goal.
“He’s tough,” Coach Wicker said. “He’s carried them. They will run it right at you and throw a little bit. They’re so physical up front.”
He said both teams have improved since they met early in the season.
“It’s going to be fun,” Wicker said. “I think we match up well. We will see how it all folds out Friday night.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Patriot Field.
The winner will meet the Indianola Academy-Winston Academy winner November 23 for the north half crown and a berth in the state championship game. If MA wins, it will host that game, too.
“There’s a lot of school spirit right now and we need that,” Wicker said. “Each week is a challenge. We need to have a great week of practice and play well come Friday night.”
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