Thursday, November 29, 2007
MA going to state title game
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy, trailing 7-6 after three quarters and battling for a spot in the state championship game, needed a spark. Colby Curtis provided it.
He surged through the line, got his hand up and blocked Winston Academy’s punt. The result was a first and goal for MA at the Winston 7-yard line.
“That’s what actually won it for us,” coach Keith Wicker said about the huge play. “There was no punt block called. I just grabbed him (Curtis) off the sideline and sent him in and told him to go rush. He went in and blocked it.”
On fourth and goal from the 1, Brent Adams scored on a quarterback sneak and then threw to Hunter Bolden for the two-point conversion. MA went up 14-7, a score that would hold the remaining 9:46 of the game.
The Patriots, north half champions, will face Centreville Academy Friday at 7 p.m. in Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton for the Class AA state crown. It’s only the second time in school history the football team has been in the title game. Marshall lost to Wilkinson Christian in 1988.
“I’m so proud of you – I can’t tell you how proud,” Wicker told his 12-1 team after last Friday’s win at home. “You’re winners. You’re fighters. You’re a great group of young men. And on top of that, you’re a pretty good football team.”
It was a cold night at Patriot Field. And it was a night dominated by defense and big plays.
Winston got the first one – Tyler Moffitt intercepting an Adams pass on MA’s first possession and returning it to the Marshall 3.
On third down, Austin Harrison scored on a 2-yard run. Dylan Morgan’s kick gave the visitors a 7-0 lead at the 8:31 mark of the first quarter.
Marshall drove 61 yards to the Winston 10. An Adams to Tyler Childers pass play gained 26 of those yards. But Winston denied MA on a fourth and two try.
Five punts followed – two by Marshall and three by Winston.
The MA offense took over at its own 38 with just under a minute to go in the first half. On second down, the Adams to Childers combination picked up 36 yards to the Winston 20. A couple of plays later, with the clock winding down, Wicker called for the team’s “hidden Rebel play,” one he got from Ole Miss.
The linemen rushed to the line of scrimmage and remained standing, all except the center. Running back Tyler Sanders was positioned up against the right guard. Adams took the snap, tucked the ball between Sanders’ legs. Sanders’ went one way with the ball shifted under his arm and Adams the other. Sanders scored easily. Winston was stunned.
“It worked to perfection, and it was the perfect time to run it,” Wicker said.
The extra-point try failed. MA was down 7-6 at halftime.
The second half opened with Winston trying to regain the momentum. The visitors put together a time-consuming drive that reached the MA 40. There they faced a fourth and 1 and decided to go for it. They tried an option to the left. Carlos Black took the pitch and was immediately upended by Marshall’s Wesley Harris for no gain.
“That was the biggest play of the game defensively – no doubt about it,” Coach Wicker said. “That number 11 for them weighs 190. Wesley weighs a lot less. He came up and stuck him.”
Four plays later, Marshall faked a punt. Sanders gained 23 yards and a first down at the Winston 31. With 2:10 to go in the third, Sanders’ 42-yard field goal try fell just short.
On Winston’s ensuing possession, Hunter Bolden sacked quarterback Tyler Dalton for a 6-yard loss on third and nine. Then on fourth down came Curtis’ heroics.
After MA went up 14-7, the two teams swapped punts.
Winston took over at its own 16 with 6:04 left – desperately seeking the tying points. The visitors earned a couple of first downs, both on the running of Dalton Then facing a third and three from the Marshall 43, he was sacked by Sanders for a 7-yard loss.
An illegal procedure penalty left Winston facing a fourth and 15 with about two minutes left. A pass play gained 14 and a half yards. At least three Patriots made the stop.
MA had to punt one more time, with 10 seconds left. But Dalton couldn’t work magic for Winston on the game’s last play.
“I’ve never felt better,” said Adams, as he received hugs after the game. “We were down and fought back. It was a total team effort.”
Marshall produced 291 yards total offense – 177 rushing and 114 passing. Adams had 56 yards rushing and he was seven of 17 passing for the 114 yards. Sanders ran for 33 yards. Childers had 82 yards receiving and Wesley Harris 32.
The MA defense held Winston to 164 yards total offense – 120 rushing and 44 passing.
Jake Paylor and Adams had eight tackles each. Josh Sharp had seven tackles. Sanders and Bolden had six tackles and a sack each.
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