Thursday, September 30, 2010
Patriots drop district opener
By BARRY BURLESON
The momentum shifted late in the first half Friday night in Batesville and the visitors never got it back.
Marshall Academy squandered an opportunity to go up by 11 in the big District 1-AA clash. Instead, North Delta scored on the last play of the half, led by two at the intermission and went on to win 26-10.
The Patriots lost their district opener and dropped to 4-2 overall. The Green Wave moved into the district driver’s seat at 2-0 and improved to 4-1 overall.
The Pats, leading 10-6, took over at its 13-yard line after Aaron McAlexander’s second interception of the night with 3:19 to go in the second quarter. Hank Owens ran 18 yards for a first and then threw to John Tomlinson, who broke three tackles and raced down the sideline for 54 yards to the North Delta 15.
MA reached the 9 before going backwards. On third and five, Owens was sacked and the Patriots were also saddled with a 15-yard penalty. The Patriots lined up to try a 45-yard field goal but MA was whistled for delay of game. The field-goal try changed to 50 yards. Instead, MA faked it and the Green Wave foiled the trick play - taking over at their own 40 with 1:09 to go in the first half.
“We didn’t score after John (Tomlinson) broke that long run (following the catch)” coach Keith Wicker said. “We might should have tried to power it in. We screwed it up; I screwed it up. To win a game like that, you can’t mess up. We messed up. North Delta is a good football team, and we made plenty of mistakes.”
With 22 seconds to go in the first half, the Green Wave converted a fourth and five on Bryan Nickle’s keeper to the Marshall 33. Nickle then threw to Jim Tom Copeland for 25 yards to the 8 for a first and goal.
The home team got off four plays in 11 seconds - the first a spike by Nickle, the second a running play for a 1-yard loss, the third an incomplete pass and the fourth a 9-yard toss to Copeland for a score. The try-for-two was denied by the Pats.
“The clock management there was questionable,” Wicker said. “How do you run three plays in nine seconds?”
Midway through the third, MA took over at its own 10, trailing 12-10. The Pats were flagged for three penalties in the possession and went in reverse to their 3. That’s when North Delta’s Sy Pritchard picked off a pass and returned it a short distance to the Patriot 5. Tres Brasell scored on a first-down run with 4:08 to go in the third. Kyle Devazier’s extra-point kick put the Green Wave up 19-10.
A blocking-below-the waist penalty forced MA to punt on its next possession. Midway through the fourth, Marshall’s Zack Pritchett hit Nickle for a 7-yard loss on a fourth and eight.
The Patriots, starting from their own 17, could not get the offense going. They couldn’t convert a fourth and 6.
North Delta, after being flagged for a false start, unsportsmanlike conduct and holding, faced a first and goal from the 30. Brasell scored from 2 yards out on fourth and goal to ice the win. Devazier also hit the kick.
The Patriots were flagged 11 times in the game for 100 yards, while the Green Wave was penalized 10 times for 85 yards.
MA ran the ball 28 times for 101 yards and was 12 of 20 passing for 144 yards.
North Delta rushed for 243 yards on 39 carries and was eight of 15 passing for 75 yards.
Leading tacklers for the Pats were Tomlinson and Chase Ferrell with seven each and Chad Mitchell and Taylor Maurey with six each.
“It was a disappointing loss,” Wicker said. “We practice hard for it all week. The hustle was there; we just didn’t execute at times. We had our chances right before halftime. We did not do well in crunch-time on the goal-line.”
MA took an early lead in the game when Chase Carpenter drilled a 34-yard field goal with 5:25 on the clock. A Mitchell sack and a McAlexander interception helped put the Pats’ offense in business.
North Delta grabbed a 6-3 advantage on Brasell’s 6-yard touchdown run with 3:15 to go in the opening quarter. Tomlinson blocked the point-after try.
North Delta, after a successful onside kick, went for a first down on fourth and three from the Patriot 39 but Maurey, Ferrell and Mitchell hit Brasell for a 4-yard loss.
On second and 18, Owens and Ferrell connected on a pass play over the middle for 30 yards to the North Delta 35. Eight plays later Kevin Fitzpatrick scored on a 1-yard run. Carpenter’s kick put MA up 10-6 at the 7:54 mark of the second period.
The Patriots do not play this week. The homecoming game is Friday, Oct. 8, versus district rival Kirk Academy. The next week, Oct. 15, district foe Indianola visits MA.
“We have to bow up and get it done and get into the playoffs,” Wicker said.
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