Thursday, August 28, 2008
MA runs for 396 yards in 40-22 win
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy entered the heat of the district race in week one and scorched Lee (Ark.) 40-22.
But it gets even hotter in week two. This Friday night, rival Kirk, fresh off a 15-12 win over Class AAA Magnolia Heights in double overtime, comes to Holly Springs for a crucial district matchup.
“Overall, we had a pretty good effort last week,” said head coach Keith Wicker. “Now we’re gearing up for Kirk. Anytime you beat Magnolia Heights, you’ve done something.”
The Patriots basically ran all over the Cougars in Marianna, Ark. Marshall had 427 yards total offense, 396 of that on the ground.
One back surpassed the 100-yard mark, and two others were very close. Hunter Bolden carried 14 times for 134 yards, Tyler Childers eight for 99 yards and Taylor Dempsey nine for 91 yards. They combined for five touchdowns.
Dempsey scored Marshall’s first touchdown of 2008. On the team’s second possession, he dashed 34 yards untouched for the score. Chase Carpenter kicked the extra point.
“We just ran our basic stuff - nothing fancy,” Wicker said. “It was a typical first game. We missed some blocking assignments, but we had some backs who were able to break some stuff. They won’t be able to that this week, unless we block better.”
The Cougars responded by driving to the MA 17. That’s where Michael Nooner recovered a fumble to halt the march.
The Patriots then put together an impressive 11-play, 83-yard drive. Childers pushed the ball into the opponent’s territory with a 29-yard run. He and Bolden did most of the work along the way, with Childers getting the touchdown from 19 yards out. Carpenter’s kick made it 14-0 with 11:15 to go in the second quarter.
The MA defense then created another turnover. Landen Fennell deflected a pass, which was then picked off by Josh Vanderburg and returned 10 yards to the Cougar 35.
“We improved defensively as the game went on,” Coach Wicker said. “They ran that spread offense, and we finally started getting some pressure on the quarterback.”
The MA offense again converted the turnover into points. Bolden coasted 35 yards for the six points. The kick failed.
Harris Gholson’s leaping interception set up the Patriots’ next points.
After the pickoff, they drove 49 yards in nine plays. Bolden earned first downs on carries of 24 and 7 yards. Childers scored on a 7-yard run. The extra point try was blocked.
Lee tried desperately to get on the scoreboard before half, but a pass attempt on fourth and 15 from the Marshall 30 was broken up by Hank Owens.
It was 26-0 at the intermission.
The defenses dominated in the third quarter. The Patriot defense held Lee twice on fourth-down tries, both thanks to heavy pressure from Nooner. For the game, Bolden led the defense with eight tackles.
MA padded its lead early in the fourth, thanks to a couple of runs from John Tomlinson. The first went for 19 yards ad the next for 48 yards to the end zone. Tomlinson carried four times in the game for 75 yards. Carpenter’s kick upped the margin to 33-0.
That’s when Coach Wicker started substituting freely - giving all of his Patriots playing time.
The Cougars avoided the shutout with 8:37 to go in the fourth, scoring on a 15-yard run and adding the two-point conversion.
Childers returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards, and on the fifth play of the possession Dempsey broke free for 29-yard touchdown run. Carpenter kicked the extra point for a 40-8 advantage.
“We ran the ball good,” Wicker said. “We didn’t have to throw it much (Owens was three of five for 31 yards and an interception).”
The Cougars added two late scores on pass plays of 47 and 9 yards and got a two-point conversion after the second touchdown.
Wicker, who was watching the Kirk-Magnolia Heights film Sunday afternoon, said he was “very impressed” with the Raiders.
“Magnolia Heights scored on the first play, and after that the Kirk defense really stepped up and played great,” he said. “They will come in here Friday night with a lot of confidence.”
The Kirk offense is led by the head coach’s son, quarterback Channing Martin.
“He throws the ball well,” Wicker said.
MA beat Kirk twice last year - 7-6 in the regular season and 26-13 in the playoffs. Plus, former MA assistant coach Jimmy Hicks is now an assistant at Kirk.
“They will be ready for us,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this game for a while, and it’s here. It will be exciting.”
He said even though it’s a key game in the district race, it’s not do-or-die.
“The winner will be in the driver’s seat, but the loser is not out of it by any means,” Wicker said. “Our goal is to get to the playoffs, but of course you’d like to win them all in getting there, too.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Patriot Field.
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