Thursday, October 22, 2009
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy and the mud are going together just fine.
The Patriots traveled 153 miles one way to play on the muddiest field of a rain-soaked season and in the end celebrated a 19-6 win over Indianola Academy and more importantly a District 1-AA championship.
“That sure was a muddy game - the muddiest yet as far as pure mud,” said a happy head coach, Keith Wicker. “I’m proud of our kids.”
It’s the second district title in three years under Wicker, who took the job in 2007.
“It’s a big accomplishment for our kids,“ he said. “I really like this bunch. They give it everything they have.”
MA improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the district. Indianola fell to 5-4 and 2-2. The Patriots wrap up the regular season with non-district foe Oak Hill Academy and district opponent West Memphis Christian. They will host a first round state playoff game on November 6.
The Patriots struck early Friday night in the Delta. They cashed in their first possession of the night - thanks to Tyler Childers’ 57-yard touchdown run. The senior rushed for 163 yards in the game on 26 carries. Chase Carpenter kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 9:24 to go in the first quarter.
Four punts followed, two by each team, before Marshall’s Chase Ferrell intercepted a pass.
But MA couldn’t move for additional points.
Then on the Colonels’ next possession, Childers stripped the football from Indianola quarterback Caleb Dodson and Ferrell recovered at the Pats’ own 26-yard line.
Marshall then ate up a chunk of the second-quarter clock with a 13-play, 65-yard drive that resulted in three points. John Tomlinson, who carried eight times on the night for 75 yards, gained 28 yards on a draw play that gave the Patriots first and goal at the Indianola 9. But the offensive attack bogged down there, and Carpenter kicked a 27-yard field goal with 31 seconds to go in the first half.
“We’ve got to learn to block when we get down there close,” Coach Wicker said. “We have to get that straightened out and it will be corrected.”
Marshall had a similar march on its first possession of the second half. The visitors drove 60 yards in eight plays but went backwards when they reached the Indianola 5. Coach Wicker used a little trickery on this scoring surge when Hank Owens picked up 37 yards on a fake punt. Carpenter’s 29-yard field goal with 5:52 left in the third quarter gave the Pats a 13-0 advantage.
The Colonels responded with their only scoring drive. They went 80 yards in 12 plays. Their biggest gain came through the air when Dodson threw to Dalton Deloach for 27 yards. Dodson scored the touchdown on a 5-yard keeper to end the third. The extra-point try failed.
The MA offense went backwards on its next possession. After forcing the punt, Indianola took over at its own 48. The Colonels moved the ball to the Marshall 16 and had a first and 10. But the Patriot defense stepped up. Indianola tried four straight passes, with the first three incomplete and the last one intercepted in the end zone by Elgin Lafever.
“Once again, we had a great defensive effort,” Wicker said. “Our defense has played very well since the loss to Magnolia Heights (in the second game of the season). We’ve really jelled. I think our speed on defense has a lot to do with it, because we’re not very big overall.”
On the first play after Lafever’s interception, Childers got loose up the middle, made a spin move and ran 51 yards to the Indianola 29. A personal foul flag on the Colonels moved the ball to the 14. Four plays later Childers scored on a 3-yard carry. The extra-point kick was no good, but MA had a 13-point lead with 3:53 remaining.
The MA defense secured the team’s sixth straight win by sacking the quarterback twice, once for minus 7 yards on first down and then for a 9-yard loss on third down.
The Patriots racked up 319 yards offense in the game, while holding the Colonels to 180 yards.
Coach Wicker said he said he has noticed a change in his Patriots since they trailed Lee (Clarksdale) 18-0 on September 18 and rallied to win 43-26.
“That has been the key to our whole season thus far,” he said. “They believe they can win.”
It’s homecoming this Friday when Marshall hosts Oak Hill. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The Raiders, which dropped from Class AAA to Class AA this season, are 3-6 overall after a 40-0 loss to Kirk last week.
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