Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wicker says Pats’ blocking must improve
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy won two and tied one in a preseason exam Thursday but the real test starts this week.
The Patriots tied North Delta and then beat Indianola and Kirk in the District 1-AA Jamboree at Grenada. They kick off the regular season Friday night, Aug. 20, versus Rossville (Tenn.) at home. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“I’m concerned about how many blocks we missed, particularly in the first game,” coach Keith Wicker said. “Maybe it was the heat (at 5 p.m.), but we had no energy and we did not execute real well.
“But that’s what the jamboree is for – to see what we need to work on. We can improve and we will improve.”
The defenses dominated in the jamboree opener versus North Delta. MA had a 40-yard field goal attempt blocked with six seconds left and the squads tied 0-0.
“It was quite evident – we had no blocking on the field goal try,” Wicker said.
The Patriots opened the game with a pass play from Hank Owens to Kevin Fitzpatrick that netted a first down. But MA went backwards, thanks to a holding call.
The Green Wave could not move the ball on their first possession.
The MA offense then converted on a fourth and inches but was stopped inches short on a fourth and three.
North Delta earned its initial first down on a pass play but then went in reverse thanks to a flag and back-to-back sacks by Patriots Neil Murphy and Taylor Maurey.
The Pats got in to field-goal position in the closing seconds when Owens hooked up with John Tomlinson for a long pass play over the middle.
MA’s second team took to the field in game two. And this time the Patriots scored a touchdown on the last play of the game and won 6-0. Chase Ferrell, replacing an injured Zack Pritchett at quarterback for one play, got the six points on a 5-yard keeper.
Dustin Allen recovered a fumble on Indianola’s first possession.
Chase Smith then broke loose for 26 yards to the Indianola 34. But MA could not convert a fourth and eight.
The same pattern followed. Evan Hickman recovered a fumble, but the Marshall offense got flagged for holding and ended up in a fourth and 30.
The defense then held the Colonels on a fourth and 2 and the offense got things in gear.
Pritchett threw to Maurey, who broke free and earned a huge gain to the Indianola 12. MA went backwards to the 30 on a high snap from the shotgun. Pritchett threw to Joey Brock, who made the catch for 29 yards to the 1-yard line. The Pats got an illegal procedure flag before Ferrell’s score.
“I was proud of our guys in that one,” Wicker said. “They battled.”
The nightcap was all Patriots. They dominated Kirk 21-0.
“We had more energy in the last game,” Wicker said. “Our key is getting the ball in our playmakers’ hands. We have some playmakers.”
MA used three big plays to quickly get on the scoreboard – the first two from Owens to Fitzpatrick and the last one a 10-yard toss to Ferrell, who broke a tackle near the goal-line and got across.
The pass proved productive again for the Pats. This time Fitzpatrick threw deep to a leaping Tomlinson, who made the snag for a 45-yard gain to the Kirk 10. Tomlinson then ran the ball into the end zone from there.
Drew Rappa recovered a fumble on Kirk’s next possession.
MA faced a fourth and 20 in the closing minutes. Owens drilled a pass into the arms of Elgin Lafever, good for first-down yardage to the Raiders’ 14. Fitzpatrick later scored on a 2-yard run.
Chase Carpenter was three for three on extra-point kicks.
The Patriots will host the Wolves from nearby Fayette County (Tenn.) Friday.
“We just have to block better,” Wicker said. “The will is there. We’re going to get it figured out.”
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