Thursday, October 21, 2010
MA earns playoff spot
By BARRY BURLESON
Five days prior to Marshall’s big district game versus Indianola, coach Keith Wicker said his Patriots had to run the football successfully and cut their penalties.
Marshall Academy rushed for 322 yards in a 25-6 win over the Colonels Friday night. Chase Ferrell gained 120 on 17 carries and John Tomlinson 108 on 10 carries, all of his coming in the first half before going out with an injury.
“Our offensive line is coming around,” Coach Wicker said. “They’re blocking well.”
Those linemen include center Drew Rappa, guards Casey Shaw and Neil Murphy, tackles Zack Pritchett, Kirby Jones and Evan Hickman, and tight ends Chad Mitchell and Taylor Maurey.
“Normally, you’re supposed to have big linemen to run our ‘magnum set,’ but our small guys are doing well up front,” he said.
The Patriots, who have been flagged for more than 100 yards in penalties in several games this season, sliced it to 50 against Indianola.
“I preached on that all week,” Wicker said.
The Patriots improved to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in District 1-AA, securing a playoff spot as the number two team in the district.
Indianola dropped to 6-3 and 2-2. The Colonels will likely make the post-season in a wildcard slot.
“Defensively, we stepped up big-time, too,” a happy Wicker said. “We got after them. It was a hard-hitting game.”
The two teams swapped punts and turnovers in the early going at Patriot Field. Marshall’s Aaron McAlexander intercepted his eighth pass of the season and added his ninth later in the game.
The Pats’ first scoring drive went 50 yards and took just six plays, thanks in large part to Tomlinson’s 53-yard burst to the Indianola 7. Hank Owens cashed in the touchdown on a 3-yard run. Chase Carpenter’s extra-point kick made it 3-0 late in the first quarter.
Dustin Allen’s fumble recovery at the Indianola 42 put Marshall in excellent field position midway through the second quarter.
The ground game went to work. Kevin Fitzpatrick and Ferrell had first-down carries. Ferrell later went into the end zone standing from 9 yards out. Carpenter’s kick put MA up 14-0 with 2:52 left in the period. That score held until the intermission.
“Scoring right before half-time was big,” Coach Wicker said.
Indianola got the ball first to open the second half and starting from its own 13 moved as far as its 43. But on third and six, a host of Patriots sacked quarterback Caleb Dodson for a 9-yard loss.
The MA offense then traveled 73 yards in five plays for more points. Ferrell ran for 17 and then Fitzpatrick got loose for 47 to the Indianola 9. On third and goal from the 5, Owens rolled right and threw to a diving Maurey for the touchdown. The extra-point kick missed mark. It was 20-0 with 7:15 left in the third.
A few minutes later the Patriot defense forced another Colonel turnover. Jake Delashmit got the fumble recovery at the Indianola 40.
MA earned one first down but was pushed back to the 32. Coach Wicker called for Carpenter, who drilled a 49-yard field goal with 2:50 to go in the third. The lead was 23-0.
Indianola got its only points a couple of minutes later. The touchdown came on a 54-yard pass play from Dodson to Luke Hargett. A try-for-two failed.
“Except for that one pass play, they really didn’t come close to scoring,” Wicker said. “We pretty much controlled the game.”
The Marshall defense got some points of its own with 2:04 left in the game. Pritchett and Jones sacked Dodson in the end zone for a safety.
The Patriots’ top tackler for the game was Mitchell with seven. Maurey and Pritchett had five each.
The Patriots go to West Point this Friday for a non-district game versus Oak Hill Academy. Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. They then wrap up the regular season the next week, Friday, Oct. 29, at district-foe West Memphis Christian.
The playoffs start Friday, Nov. 5. Wicker is in his fourth season as Marshall’s head coach and the Pats have made the playoffs all four years.
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