Thursday, November 22, 2007
Patriots rip Raiders
By BARRY BURLESON
It happened so quickly – like the Kirk Academy Raiders never really knew what hit them.
The Marshall Academy Patriots stunned the visitors with a 20-0 first quarter lead and went on to win 26-13, putting them in this week’s north half championship game versus Winston.
“I think coming out early and hitting them in the mouth and getting a couple of quick touchdowns was huge,” said coach Keith Wicker, talking about the keys to victory.
On MA’s second possession of the night, Brent Adams avoided the blitz on third and four and threw 33 yards to Wesley Harris, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch. The play gave the Patriots a first and 10 at the Kirk 28.
Adams ran 11 yards to the 17, and two plays later Harris darted 15 yards on a double reverse to give Marshall a lead it would never relinquish. Adams kicked the extra point.
It was three and out for Kirk on its next possession, thanks to a hard-hitting Marshall defense. The big play came on first down when Tyler Childers and Josh Sharp hit Raider runner Brian Bowman for a 4-yard loss.
“Probably the biggest key was us stopping number 42 (Bowman),” Wicker said. “We brought someone off the edge (of the defense) almost every play. Defensively, we played good. The kids played hard and wanted to win.”
The MA offense struck again in the first on a 48-yard, nine-play drive. Adams ran for two first downs. Then facing a third and 11, he found his favorite receiver, Harris, for 12 yards to the Raider 2. Taylor Dempsey ran for the six points from there. Adams’ kick made it 14-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, John Tomlinson’s hit on Kirk’s return man forced the fumble and Childers picked up the ball and raced 25 yards for another score. The extra-point try failed, but it was 20-0 with two seconds to go in the opening period.
“We forced some turnovers, too,” said Wicker said, continuing to talk about the keys to victory. “That always help.”
The Raiders responded by driving to the MA 29. But on fourth and three, Justin Gray sacked the quarterback for a 6-yard loss.
The Patriots, on the legs of Adams and Dempsey, ran a chunk of time off the clock in the second quarter and reached the Kirk 25. But Adams’ 42-yard field goal attempt missed the mark.
The MA defense stepped up one more time to close the first half. Again, it was Gray who sacked the quarterback with just eight seconds left.
The two district rivals swapped punt to open the second half.
Kirk started a drive at its own 2-yard line and reached the Patriot 45 before being forced to punt. Gray blocked it. Childers picked it up and traveled 40 yards for a touchdown. The try-for-point was no good. The lead was 26-0 with 3:03 remaining in the third.
The Raiders struck less than a minute later with their only big play of the night. Channing Martin threw to Brandon Hubbard for 70 yards and a score. Bowman’s kick made it 26-7.
Kirk closed the game’s scoring with 2:10 left in the fourth on Jay Wilkinson’s 13-yard run. The extra-point try was no good.
The Patriots improved to 11-1. Kirk ended its season 8-5.
“The kids are really believing,” Coach Wicker said. “They can see our successes. It’s fun.”
Marshall had 239 yards total offense. Adams ran for 112 and threw for 47, with Harris on the receiving end of all three.
Wicker praised his entire defense for “an outstanding game.” Top tacklers were Childers and Dempsey with seven each, Adams with six, and Jake Paylor and Harris with five each. Leading the sack attack were Gray with three and Hunter Bolden and Tomlinson with one each. Gray also blocked the punt.
Winston Academy, with an 11-2 record, visits Marshall Academy this Friday night with a berth in the Class AA state championship game on the line. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. It’s Patriots versus Patriots.
“Winston is a big bunch of boys,” Wicker said. “I think we will be evenly matched. We have to continue to play well every time out.”
The south half title game pits Trinity Episcopal (13-0) against Centreville Academy (11-2). Wicker was an assistant coach for 16 years at Centreville.
The state championship game will be played Friday night, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.
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