Thursday, October 8, 2009
Patriots burn Devils
By BARRY BURLESON
An early goal-line stand lit Marshall Academy’s fire Friday night at Tunica.
MA had taken a 3-0 lead on Chase Carpenter’s 35-yard field goal with 7:31 to go in the opening quarter. But host Tunica Academy answered with a drive that reached the Marshall 4-yard line. There the Blue Devils were turned away on four straight downs.
“I think we came out flat but our kids started playing then,” said Keith Wicker, head coach of the Patriots. “Stopping them on the goal-line was big. We knew we were in a ball game - in a fight.”
MA used that “bend but not break” defense and a mix of the run and pass on offense to burn the Devils 30-6. Class AA Marshall improved to 5-1 overall. Class A Tunica, coached by former Marshall assistant Jimmy Hicks, fell to 5-2.
“Tunica is a lot better than when we played them in the summer (a preseason scrimmage),” Wicker said. “They’re a good ball club. They have speed and size.”
The Patriot defense bent again early in the second. Tunica reached as far as the MA 10 before being stopped on a fourth and six try.
The MA offense then traveled 87 yards in nine plays for its first touchdown on the cool early October evening. Tyler Childers, who rushed for 156 yards in the game, opened the drive with a 13-yard carry and finished it with a 7-yard touchdown carry. In between Josh Vanderburg had a 12-yard carry and quarterback Hank Owens threw to John Tomlinson for 22 yards to the Tunica 29. Carpenter’s extra-point kick put Marshall on top 10-0 with 3:59 left in the second period.
That score held until intermission, thanks to Chase Ferrell’s interception after the Blue Devils had once again driven deep into MA territory. He picked off the pass at the at 9 and returned it to the 17.
“The kids got it together in the second quarter,” Wicker said. “They knew they were in a dogfight.”
An interception sparked the Patriots to start the second half, too. Tunica, taking over at its own 20, used just five plays and a personal foul penalty on Marshall, to reached the MA 14. On third and eight, Elgin Lafever picked off a pass and returned it 38 yards.
It took the Patriots one minute to cover the 57 yards. They added more points in only four plays - three runs by Childers, including one for 26 yards and six points, and an 11-yard run by Tomlinson, who carried five Devils with him for most of those yardage. Carpenter’s kick made it 17-0 at the 8:36 mark of the third quarter.
Tunica got its first and only points of the game three minutes later. The Devils’ top rusher, Freeman Gray, fumbled but teammate Cody Simpson picked it up and completed the 52-yard scoring play. It was the first touchdown the Pats had allowed in seven quarters. A try-for two failed with 5:48 to go in the third.
“That number 23 (Gray) is a good ball player,” Wicker said. “He can run it.”
The Blue Devils then tried some trickery, an onside kick, but Marshall’s Will Patton was not fooled. He covered up the ball at MA’s own 48. On second down, Owens, who was six of nine passing in the game for 78 yards, tossed to Tomlinson for 11 yards and a first down. Then Childers found a hole up the middle and raced along the right side for 40 yards and another touchdown. Carpenter booted the extra point for a 24-6 lead with 4:35 left in the third.
After forcing Tunica’s only punt of the evening, the Patriots padded that lead with a 10-play, 52-yard drive. Eight of those plays were on the ground, courtesy of Childers, Tomlinson and Owens. Owens also had 11- and 10-yard completions to Childers. Childers scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 6-yard run with 10:50 left in the fourth quarter. The extra-point try was no good.
Vanderburg intercepted a pass to stop Tunica’s last march into Patriot territory.
“We made some mistakes, but this group has a strong will to win,” Wicker said.
Marshall had 336 yards total offense to 294 for Tunica.
MA returns to the heat of the district race this Friday with a trip to Kirk Academy in Grenada. The Raiders lost a 20-19 heartbreaker to district foe Indianola last week. Kirk is 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the district. MA is 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the district.
“I wish we could play somebody one time our size,” Wicker said. “They’ve got some big ones in the middle. They’ve played a tough schedule and they’re a solid football team. They’re going to try and grind it out and keep the clock running.
“They’re going to be ready to play and I know our kids are going to be ready to play. It’s a very important game as far as the playoffs go.”
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