Thursday, September 10, 2009
Patriots clip Eagles
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy did not start so well Friday night but it finished just fine.
The Patriots’ offense sputtered in the early going at Falkner, and the team relied on defense until running back Tyler Childers started clicking on all cylinders. The senior scored all three touchdowns as MA beat the Eagles 21-12 in its first varsity game ever versus a public school.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” said head coach Keith Wicker. “The first part of the game, everybody was missing blocking assignments. They (the Eagles) kept us backed up.
“Then Childers got going and created a little daylight. I was pleased with the outcome and very pleased with the defense.”
The Patriots faced a fourth and 20, a fourth and 12 and a fourth and 15 after its first three series - punting each time, the last one coming from the back of their own end zone.
But Falkner couldn’t get anything going either against a hard-charging MA defense, led by Will Patton. His sack of Eagle quarterback Sam Lockhart led to a Falkner punt to open the second quarter. MA almost blocked it, but instead took over at the Eagle 48 after the rushed, shanked kick.
That’s when Childers and his offensive line went to work. He broke loose for 32 yards on a third and four play, and then scored from 5 yards out on a first and goal. Chase Carpenter booted the extra point for a 7-0 advantage with 10:13 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles responded with a long, time-consuming drive, but it resulted in no points. They started at their own 24 and went as far as the Marshall 7. But the home team lost yardage, thanks to a holding penalty and a quarterback sack, this one courtesy of Patton and Neil Murphy. With 1:31 to go in the first half, Falkner’s desperation pass try on fourth and 18 from the 20 fell incomplete.
But MA gave the ball right back to the Eagles on a first-down fumble.
Falkner cashed in the turnover, going a short 20 yards in three plays. Running back Michael Prather looked to be stopped on third down but escaped and scampered to the end zone for a 19-yard score. After an offsides flag on the Patriots, the Eagles decided to go for a two-point conversion, but it failed.
Marshall led 7-6 at the intermission in Tippah County.
In the second half, the MA defense picked up where it left off. This time Trey Lindsey and Childers came up with the big plays, both resulting in 2-yard losses for the Eagles.
The Patriots padded their lead on their first possession of the second half, marching 50 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Hank Owens had a couple of first-down carries. Childers then rushed for 12 and 8 yards. He broke three tackles on the latter one and scored six points. Carpenter’s kick made it 14-6.
Later in the third, MA’s Josh Vanderburg blocked a punt, which teammate Josh Thompson recovered. The Patriots drove to the Faulkner 4, with the big play being Childers’ diving, onehanded grab of an Owens pass, good for 23 yards. But the Pats went backwards on an unsportsmanlike conduct flag and a 27-yard field goal attempt was no good.
The MA defense continued to shine. This time Jake Delashmit sacked Robertson for a 2-yard loss on third and three.
The Patriots got their last points of the evening midway through the fourth quarter. Childers capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Big plays prior to the score were an Owens to Chad Mitchell pass for 22 yards and Owens’ 12-yard keeper. Carpenter added the extra point. It was 21-6.
The Eagles drove 80 yards on their last possession. A new quarterback, Will Robertson, spiked the ball at the MA 19, apparently just prior to time expiring, and they were granted one last play. His pass was tipped by Marshall’s John Tomlinson, then caught by Prather for the touchdown. There was no extra-point try.
“I was proud of our team,” Coach Wicker said. “Now I know our kids can play at a higher level, and I’m pleased. Our kids knew Falkner had a good team, and they wanted it. I think we surprised them a little bit.”
The Patriots do not play this week. They will host Lee (Clarksdale) on Friday night, Sept. 18. Then they open district play against North Delta Friday night, Sept. 25. North Delta beat Lee, which moved up to Class AAA this season, 13-3 last week.
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