Thursday, September 8, 2011
Patriots take care of business on long road trip
By BARRY BURLESON
There was a lot for coach Barrett Donahoe to like about his Marshall Academy Patriots’ most recent win.
MA, in its longest road trip of the regular season, rocked the Immanuel Rams 48-12 Friday night at Steens. It was the first-ever football matchup between the two schools.
“We had some mistakes the week before that we corrected, and I’m proud of that,” said Donahoe, referring to 12 penalties in a seven-point victory over Tunica and just one versus Immanuel.
“And we got some bad breaks early Friday night (three turnovers), but we did not panic. We continued to play and we played a very solid football game.
“I thought our offensive linemen played their best game of the year. We were prepared and focused.”
The Pats had 339 yards total offense with 244 coming on the ground. Chase Ferrell carried 18 times for 100 yards.
“And defensively, we did a tremendous job,” he said. “We were very aggressive and more disciplined.”
Aaron McAlexander led the way with 13 tackles and an interception.
“Overall, I was pleased,” said Donahoe, whose squad improved to 3-0. “But we don’t have any breaks in our schedule. We must get better.”
The MA defense got the team’s first points Friday in Lowndes County. Kevin Fitzpatrick returned a fumble 90 yards for a touchdown in the opening period. The extra-point try was blocked.
The Patriots’ offense put together a 60-yard drive to start the second quarter. Ferrell had a 24-yard run and later scored on a 2-yard plunge. He also cashed in the two-point conversion.
Marshall went up 21-0 with 6:04 to go in the second quarter as Fitzpatrick got loose and darted 34 yard to the end zone. Andy Burleson kicked the extra point. It was 21-0.
The Rams’ first-half points came on a 70-yard pass play. A try-for-two failed.
Marshall upped its lead with 1:23 left in the half. Fitzpatrick found an open Ferrell, who broke two tackles and covered 55 yards for six points. The point-after try missed the mark. It was 27-6 at the break.
The Patriots marched 59 yards in six plays to start the third quarter. Fitzpatrick, on a keeper up the middle, scored from 18 yards out. Burleson added the extra point.
Six plays later McAlexander picked off an Immanuel pass and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. Ferrell rushed for the two-pointer. The lead was 42-6 with 7:44 remaining in the third.
MA, behind the running of Matt Rappa and Trey Johnson, moved 63 yards in the fourth. Johnson scored the six on a 6-yard run. A pass try for the two fell incomplete.
Immanuel, which had 155 yards rushing, got 59 of that on the last play of the game, and it produced a touchdown for the host team. MA stopped the two-point try.
Other leading tacklers for the Pats were Josh Petree with 10, Rappa with nine, Ferrell with eight, Evan Hickman with seven and a sack, and Tyler Cook with seven.
“I’m glad we played Immanuel in week three instead of week 10,” Coach Donahoe said. “They have talent and size. Down the road, I think they will have the opportunity to be successful.”
Next up for Class AA Marshall is Class AAA Lee (Clarksdale) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Patriot Field.
“It will be a tremendous challenge,” Donahoe said. “They have a very good football team. They come in 2-1, and they’re very well-coached and very physical.”
He said it is important for his Pats to be “clicking on all cylinders” as three straight conference games await after the Colts.
“This stretch will make or break our season,” he said.
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