Thursday, September 15, 2011
Patriots rally to beat Lee
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy had a 77-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to win the football game, 29-22, Friday night.
But that’s not the possession head coach Barrett Donahoe wanted to talk about the most.
His Patriots had struggled in the early going and trailed Lee 15-0 in the second quarter. That’s when they put together a 78-yard, eight-play march to break the ice.
“From a character standpoint and an execution standpoint, that was the best drive we’ve had this year,” Donahoe said. “The way we had fallen behind and with the things that had gone wrong, to take the ball down at that point and score changed the whole complexion of the ball game.”
The Class AA Patriots improved to 4-0 with the seven-point win over the Class AAA Colts, their second win over a larger classification school this season.
“We had so many things happen to us – injuries, turnovers and penalties – but our guys came together,” Donahoe said. “They answered the bell. They did a great job.”
Lee went up 6-0 midway through the first quarter on one of its rare pass plays. Taylor Allen Flowers connected with Robert Bobo over the middle for 78 yards and six points. The extra-point kick missed the mark.
Marshall was then forced to punt from deep in its own territory. The snap sailed out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Pats trailed 8-0.
Early in the second quarter MA had driven to the Lee 33. That’s when Bobo intercepted a pass and returned it 58 yards to the Patriots’ 24-yard line.
The Colts padded their lead in just two plays. Flowers scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper. Bryce Berry kicked the extra point.
The Patriots responded with what Coach Donahoe termed the “drive of the year.” Kevin Fitzpatrick threw to Aaron McAlexander and Trey Johnson for 13- and 19-yard gains. Fitzpatrick scored on a 2-yard run and tossed to Chase Ferrell for the two-point conversion.
McAlexander picked off a pass to end the half. MA was down 15-8.
The Patriots took the opening possession of the second half and knotted the score. Johnson caught passes from Fitzpatrick for 14 and 12 yards, moving the ball to the Lee 37. The touchdown came when Ferrell, on a call for a halfback pass, could not find the receiver open, kept the ball and reversed field for a 23-yard run. Andy Burleson kicked the extra point.
But it wasn’t tied for long. Lee went 73 yards on 11 running plays to regain the advantage. Bradley Willis scored on a 6-yard sweep. Berry added the kick.
“They’re a very physical football team,” Donahoe said about the Colts. “We knew coming in their game plan was to run the football, maintain possession and run time off the clock. They were successful (72 offensive plays to 44 for MA). But we just kept battling.”
The Pats turned it over on the first play of their next possession. It looked like Lee might drive the nail in the coffin with a short distance to go for more points.
On second and goal from the MA 10, Brody Martin pressured the Colt quarterback, forcing an errant throw right into the arms of Neil Murphy, who returned it 90 yards down the sideline for a Marshall touchdown. The extra-point try was no good. The Patriots trailed 22-21 with 10:51 to go in the game.
Lee melted five minutes off the clock on its next possession. Then the Patriot defense stepped up on a fourth-down play, stopping the Colts at the MA 23, about 2 yards short of a first.
The Pats, taking over with 5:51 to go in the game, moved for the winning points, that came with 3:14 left. Ferrell ran for two first downs and caught a pass for another. A scrambling Fitzpatrick spotted teammate McAlexander, who made the catch just behind a Colt defender for the 24-yard touchdown. The same two connected for the two-point conversion.
“We had a lot of confidence on that last drive,” Donahoe said. “We played from behind all night long, but we played from behind without panic.”
Lee tried to answer but Kirby Jones sacked the quarterback near midfield with 15 seconds to go and McAlexander intercepted another pass to end it.
Tyler Cook spearheaded the MA defense with 17 tackles.
“He was all over the place all night long,” Donahoe said. “He had a huge game.”
Other top tacklers were McAlexander with 13, Matt Rappa with 12 and Hickman and Murphy with nine each.
Fitzpatrick threw for 115 yards and ran for 90.
MA had 266 yards total offense and Lee 354 (279 coming on the ground).
The Patriots open District 1-AA play Friday night by hosting Carroll Academy for homecoming. The Rebels are 2-2 after a 17-6 win over Kirk last week.
“We’re glad to be 4-0 but we’ve preached to our kids that week 5 is when our season starts,” Donahoe said. “Carroll makes a lot of big plays. We must be focused and prepared to play a good football team.”
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