Thursday, September 24, 2009
Patriots rally to beat Colts
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy appeared dead in the water Friday night but instead swam its way out.
The Patriots, playing on a rain-drenched home field, rallied from an 18-0 deficit and shocked Lee Academy (Clarksdale) 43-26. Some players celebrated the come-from-behind win by diving into a big puddle in the north end zone. The Colts, former district rival of the Patriots, moved up to Class AAA this season.
“We never gave up and I’m proud of our players for that,” coach Keith Wicker said. “We know we can win; we just have to play like we’re capable of playing.”
Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Marshall in the early going.
Quarterback Hank Owens hooked up with John Tomlinson on a 59-yard pass, but then the Patriots fumbled the football away at the Lee 16-yard line.
The Colts took advantage of the momentum and traveled 84 yards in just four plays. Wide receiver Alexander Morson got behind the MA defense and quarterback Ben True found him for a 49-yard gain. Welby Wu scored on a 39-yard run. The extra-point kick was blocked.
Disaster struck again for the Pats on the ensuing kickoff. Another fumble gave the Colts possession at the MA 22.
Lee used five straight running plays to reach the end zone. Devyn Shing got the six points on a 3-yard plunge. A try-for-two was denied. The visitors led 12-0 with 6:30 to go in the first quarter.
Marshall couldn’t pick up a first down on its second possession of the game and a short punt gave the Colts the ball in good field position again at the Patriots’ 45.
“We gave them the momentum with the mistakes, and in turn we gave them easy drives,” Wicker said. “Plus we didn’t stop the fullback trap.”
It took Lee 11 plays to go the 45 yards and up its lead to 18-0. Wu was the workhorse, but the touchdown came on a 21-yard pass on fourth 19. Jay Salter made the catch of True’s toss in the back of the end zone. The try-for-two was unsuccessful.
That’s when the Patriots went to work on slicing into the deficit.
“We never got down,” Wicker said. “We still thought we were going to win.”
The home team’s first points came courtesy of an 81-yard, 11-play march. Owens kept for a first down and then Childers ran for two firsts. Tomlinson bulled over Colts for the next first-down run, this one good for 12 yards to the Lee 32. Facing a third and nine at the 31, Owens threw to Tomlinson, who made a spin move and sprinted the distance for the touchdown. Chase Carpenter extra-point kick cut the margin to 18-7 with 7:26 left in the second quarter.
The Marshall defense stepped up and held Lee. The Colts, facing a fourth and 16, were forced to punt.
Then the offense got more points before intermission, going 61 yards in seven plays. Childers dashed and sliced his way for 32 yards to the Lee 18 and then Tomlinson carried five Colts with him for 10 yards to the 8. Childers scored the touchdown on a 1-yard carry. Carpenter’s kick was good with 1:21 left in the second period.
“Going in just 18-14 down at the half gave us new life,” Coach Wicker said. “But then they came out and ran it down our throats.”
The Colts open the second half with what looked to be a back-breaking, 78-yard, eight-play scoring. Seven of those were running plays. The big one was Shing’s 29-yard run up the gut on third and 10. Brandon Hanks later went up the middle from 5 yards out for the touchdown. Shing carried for the two-point conversion and Lee was up 26-14 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
On MA’s next series, Coach Wicker went to his bag of tricks. The Pats, facing fourth and eight from their own 37, faked the punt. Childers, who surprisingly took the snap, raced 63 yards for six points. Carpenter’s added the extra-point kick at the 7:50 mark of the third.
“From that point on, the momentum changed,” Wicker said. “I told them I would use it (the fake-punt play) only if we needed it to win the ball game and get the momentum. It’s hard (for the opposition) to pick up. I knew it would go for big yardage, but I didn’t know we would score on it.”
A fired-up Marshall defense came up with big play after big play on the Colts’ next two possessions. Jake Delashmit, Josh Vanderburg and Will Patton made big hits. Then a hard-charging Neil Murphy blocked a Lee punt and gave the MA offense possession at its own 48 with 10:10 to go in the fourth period.
It took the Patriots two minutes and six plays to put the go-ahead points on the scoreboard. The biggest of the plays came on second and 13 from the Lee 28. Owens lofted a pass for Delashmit, who made the amazing snag while falling backward near the out-of-bounds line at the 4-yard line. Childers scored on the next play, and also carried for the two-point conversion. MA went in front 29-26 with 7:53 to go in the fourth.
Marshall kept the momentum, thanks to Elgin Lafever’s interception and 20-yard return to the Colts’ 20.
On first down from there, Tomlinson found the middle clogged but bounced outside for a 19-yard gain to the 1. Owens scored on the quarterback sneak. Carpenter’s kick put MA on top 36-26 with 6:58 left.
The MA defense continued to shine. On Lee’s next possession, Drew Rappa sacked True for a 7-yard loss and then on fourth and 12, Chase Ferrell intercepted a pass at the Colts’ 49.
The Patriots then melted the clock and tacked on more points. Childers, Tomlinson and Owens again did the groundwork on a nine-play drive. But on fourth and goal from the 2, Owens threw to Delashmit for the touchdown with 58 seconds remaining. Carpenter’s kick put the 43-26 final on the board.
Ferrell intercepted another pass to end the game.
Marshall had 280 yards rushing. Childers had 24 carries for 186 yards, with 119 of that coming in the second half. Tomlinson had nine carries for 71 yards. Owens was six of 13 passing for 139 yards. Tomlinson caught three of those for 101 yards.
“We had a little extra in our step after that faked punt,” said Wicker, continuing to talk about his team‘s never-say-die attitude. “That picked everybody up. I’m really proud of the entire team.”
But a much bigger game awaits this Friday night at Patriot Field. North Delta comes to town. It’s the first district game for Marshall. Both are 3-1 overall with both losing to Class AAA Magnolia Heights. The Green Wave is 1-0 in the district after an earlier victory over Indianola.
“North Delta is a very good football team,” Wicker said. “Their line is big and very good. Their quarterback transferred from Oxford, and he throws the ball well. We have to load up and get after them. We will see what we’re made of Friday night.”
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