Thursday, November 13, 2008
Patriots end season 6-5
By BARRY BURLESON
Keith Wicker liked the fight in his Marshall Academy football team Friday night.
The wildcard Patriots got within five points of District 1-AA champion Kirk Academy midway through the fourth period, thanks to a blocked punt and a short scoring drive. But the Raiders turned to their potent rushing attack, added more points of their own and advanced with a 23-10 victory.
“We have some tough kids,” said Wicker, whose team finishes 6-5. “They played hard all the way to the end.”
He said he considered an onside kick when the Patriots cut the deficit to 15-10 with 6:26 left.
“If hindsight was 20/20, maybe I should have,” he said. “But I didn’t know we couldn’t stop them a lick.”
It was Kirk’s second victory over MA this season. The Raiders won 20-0 in a regular season matchup in week two.
And just like the first go-around, Kirk dominated in the trenches. The Raiders had 331 yards rushing to the Patriots’ 135.
“They were just bigger and stronger,” Wicker said. “That’s where you win it - up front. But I’m proud of my kids.”
The Patriots had a good scoring chance early. Kirk fumbled on the first offensive play of the game and Marshall’s Joey Brock recovered at the Raiders’ 29-yard line. But on third and nine, Will Thimmes picked off an errant Patriot pass.
Kirk then drove 83 yards in 11 plays before MA forced a 28-yard field goal try, which was no good.
On its next possession, Kirk took the lead. The 42-yard drive only took two plays - one a 37-yard pass from Channing Martin to Houston Harper and the next a 5-yard touchdown run by Rob Dambrino. A try-for-two failed with 2:00 to go in the first period.
MA responded with a scoring drive of its own. Tyler Childers, Hank Owens and Hunter Bolden ran for first downs on gains of 25, 17 and 11 yards, respectively. At the 11:00 mark of the second quarter, Chase Carpenter nailed a 26-yard field goal. The Pats trailed 6-3.
Later in the first half, Kirk’s defense denied Marshall on a fourth and one try.
The Raiders used the momentum to pad their advantage. Martin had runs of 24 and 16 yards. At the 5:21 mark, Harper it a 29-yard field goal.
The home team almost added more points before the intermission. They marched 80 yards in the last three minutes of the second quarter but a 37-yard field goal attempt with six seconds left missed the mark.
The defenses of both teams dominated early in the second half.
That’s until Brent Bowman found a hole and ran 60 yards to the end zone with 1:22 remaining in the third period. A try-for-two was unsuccessful and Kirk was in command at 15-3.
But the Patriots didn’t die. Midway through the fourth, Kirk was forced to punt. Coach Wicker called for “punt block.” It worked. Josh Vanderburg blocked the kick and MA had a first and 10 at the Raiders’ 20.
Facing a third and 13 from the 23, Childers tossed it to Bolden, who threw it down the field to an all-alone Elgin Lafever in the end zone. Carpenter’s kick cut the margin to five.
But Kirk drove the nail in the coffin by 65 yards in plays to score. Dambrino went in standing from 5 yards out. Thimmes ran for the two-point conversion.
Marshall reached the Kirk 45 before failing to convert on a fourth and five. The Raiders then simply ran out the clock.
Kirk was four of 10 passing for 73 yards. MA was four of 11 for 69 yards. Lafever had two catches for 47 yards.
“I’m pleased with the season,” Coach Wicker said. “Our goal was to get to the playoffs, and we did that. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”
The Raiders (10-2) advance to play Canton Academy in the second round.
Wicker said the Patriots will take a brief break and then go to work in the weight room.
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