Thursday, September 17, 2009
Patriots dominate Tunica
The Marshall Academy junior high Patriots hit Tunica with an aerial assault last Thursday en route to their 38-14 victory.
It was the home opener for Marshall, after starting the season with a pair of road victories.
Building off last week’s victory over West Memphis, head coach Keith Owens again praised his squad’s “team effort.”
“We have so many weapons that our opponents can’t just key on one,” he said. “We weren’t able to do much on the ground until late in the game so we had to go through the air.”
After having to punt following three plays on their first possession, the Patriots took possession again on their own 35. Marshall signal caller Zack Pritchett connected on a pair of passes. The first was a 7-yard gain to Stephen Pannell and the second was to Aaron McAlexander for a 53-yard touchdown. Pritchett added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
After holding the Blue Devils defensively, the Patriots’ quick strike offense went to work again. On the second play of the series, Pritchett hooked up with John Wesley Ray on a 66-yard pass play that resulted in a touchdown. The point-after attempt failed, but MA led 14-0.
Receiving the ball back with under 2:00 left in the half, the Patriots looked to add to their lead. Dakota Dailey had a 29-yard reception to move the ball across midfield and Ray snagged another for a 26-yard gain to place the ball at the 15-yard line. After an illegal motion penalty moved the ball back 5 yards, Pritchett again went to the air, finding Ray all alone for a 20-yard score. Pritchett tacked on the point-after attempt, and with just 38 seconds remaining before intermission, the Patriots led 22-0.
Marshall received the opening kickoff to start the second half and promptly went to work padding its lead. This time the Patriots gained it on the ground. McAlexander had an 18-yard gain and Pritchett a 35-yard run that placed the ball on the 1-yard line. McAlexander took it in from there and Pritchett’s two-point conversion made it 30-0 midway through the third.
Tunica eventually got on the scoreboard, closing the gap to 30-8, but that put the ball back in the potent Patriots’ hands. On the first play from scrimmage, Chase Smith went around right end and tight-roped the sideline for a 55-yard scoring run. Pritchett connected with Dailey on the point-after attempt.
The Blue Devils added a late score, but MA would run out the clock for their third win of the season.
Owens said, “Tunica played hard and we had to rise up to their challenge. We made some adjustments with our offensive line and it made all the difference.”
Owens was referring to his linemen as Vince Hoyt, Hunter Vanderburg, Josh Mask, Wood Morris and Colt Lindsey.
He also praised his defense.
“We made some big plays when we needed to,” Owens said. “We swarmed to the ball and stung ’em pretty good.”
Smith was the team’s leading tackler for the second week in a row. He notched seven solo tackles and also had three assists. Dailey had seven tackles as well and a pass deflection. Dustin Allen also had a big game with six solos and four assisted tackles.
Offensively, Pritchett was successful on 10 of 16 pass attempts for 216 yards. He also carried the ball four times for 43 yards.
Ray caught five passes for 129 yards to lead the receiving corps.
After having negative yards gained on the ground in the first half, MA, as a team, rebounded to net 119 yards on five carries in the second half.
The junior Patriots will again be at home this Thursday as they host Kirk at 7 p.m.
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