Thursday, September 1, 2011
MA downs Devils in squeaker
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy produced points Friday night with the game on the line.
The Patriots scored 22 in the fourth quarter and turned back a tough Tunica Academy team 35-28.
“I’m proud of our guys – the way they handled themselves,” said coach Barrett Donahoe, who watched his squad go to 2-0. “A lot of things went against us (like 12 penalties for 83 yards), but we were able to stick together and pull it out.
“I’m pleased that we were able to finish with all the bad things that took place.”
Quarterback Kevin Fitzpatrick made big play after big play. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. He had 118 yards passing and 93 rushing.
“But there was not a bigger play in the game than Trey Johnson’s kickoff return,” Donahoe said.
With 2:31 left in the game, Tunica had scored and added a two-point conversion to take a 28-27 lead.
Johnson caught the ensuing kick and returned the ball 46 yards to the Tunica 20.
After a 10-yard flag on the Blue Devils, Elgin Lafever caught a tipped pass in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Chase Ferrell, on a halfback pass, found an all-alone Lafever for the two-point conversion with 2:03 to go.
Tunica, ranked third in Class A, tried to rally but a fired-up MA defense held on four downs.
“Tunica has a very good football team,” Coach Donahoe said. “We showed a lot of determination. We were able to overcome obstacles and win the football game.”
Marshall took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
Ferrell got the first six on a 1-yard plunge. The extra-point try was blocked. The 58-yard drive included a faked punt, with Ferrell picking up 9 yards and a first down.
After holding the Devils on a fourth-down try, the MA offense went 51 yards for more points. Fitzpatrick threw twice to Lafever for first downs and then passed 5 yards to Aaron McAlexander for the touchdown. Andy Burleson kicked the extra point.
Midway through the second quarter, Tunica got its first points, thanks to the legs of quarterback Brandon Holmes. He kept the ball three straight times for sizeable gains, including a 19-yard carry to the end zone. Rip Kirk kicked the extra point.
Later in the first half the Devils reached the MA 4, but Matt Rappa’s tackle on fourth down halted the scoring attempt.
Marshall could not move the ball and had to punt from its own end zone.
Tunica, after a 15-yard return, went 20 yards in two plays. Holmes passed to Tyler Harris for the 12-yard score. The point-after try trailed.
The game was tied at 13 at the intermission.
Tunica recovered an MA fumble early in the third and took advantage. The Devils, who took over at the Patriot 24, scored on a faked field goal. Kirk threw to Austin Hagstrom for the 6-yard touchdown. Kirk kicked the extra point.
Marshall then found some fire – putting together a 12-play, 67-yard drive that ended with 10:35 to go in the fourth. The “wow” play of the series was a dazzling snag of a tipped ball by McAlexander that gained 25 yards to the Devil 40. Fitzpatrick got the six on a 4-yard run and then kept the ball for the two-point conversion. MA led 21-20.
McAlexander stopped Tunica’s next possession with an interception.
MA drove 80 yards - all on the ground except for Fitzpatrick’s 8-yard pass to McAlexander for the touchdown. Ferrell had a 25-yard run up the middle that pushed MA into enemy territory. A try-for-two was not successful.
Tunica did not quit. Thanks to Holmes’ rushing and passing, the Devils regained the lead at 28-27. His fourth and fifth completions of the drive were 3 yards to Taylor Watson for the touchdown and then 3 yards to Harris for the two-point conversion.
That’s when MA answered for the winning points.
“We regrouped and held our composure down the stretch,” Coach Donahoe said. “It was a fantastic way to finish.”
MA had 325 yards total offense – 194 rushing and 121 passing. Tunica had 222 yards – 136 rushing and 86 passing.
Top tacklers for the Pats were Tyler Cook with 11, Evan Hickman with 10, Ferrell with seven and McAlexander, Neil Murphy and Lafever with six each. Rappa had four tackles and two sacks.
Marshall goes to Steens (near Columbus) to face Immanuel this Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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