Thursday, October 6, 2011
Patriots lose to district rivals
By BARRY BURLESON
District 1-AA rivals Marshall Academy and North Delta combined for 76 points and 826 yards of total offense Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Green Wave got the most of the points and the yardage.
North Delta moved into the driver’s seat in the race for the district championship with a 44-32 win in Batesville. The Green Wave had 443 yards and MA 383. Both teams are 6-1 overall. North Delta is 2-0 in the district and Marshall 2-1.
“It was a shootout and we knew it was going to be that way,” said Barrett Donahoe, head coach of the Patriots. “We were playing catch-up about all night, and that’s hard against a team like North Delta.
“I loved the effort of our kids. We were prepared but we have not been consistent enough in any game.
“The loss is hard to swallow, but we played hard. This just puts some more obstacles in our way. Our ultimate goals are still in our grasp.”
It appeared the two teams would go to the half deadlocked.
North Delta went up 6-0 in the first quarter on quarterback Tyler Pirtle’s 37-yard keeper.
MA bounced back with its signal-caller, Kevin Fitzpatrick, dashing 26 yards for a score. He threw to Aaron McAlexander for the two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead.
Early in the second period, Pirtle scored again, this one on 3-yard run. He also ran for the two to put the Green Wave back in front.
Late in the second quarter, MA’s Matt Rappa recovered a fumble at the North Delta 47. The Patriots drove for the tying points, which came on Fitzpatrick’s 14-yard toss to McAlexander. The extra-point kick was no good.
Then came controversy. On first down, North Delta running back Taylor Morris appeared to be down and his momentum stopped when hit by several Patriots. But no whistle blew and he renewed his run all the way to the end zone – 71 yards. A stunned group of Pats went to the break trailing 20-14.
“I don’t want to blame the officials,” said Donahoe, when asked about the play and the momentum-swinging six points after the game. “We get bad calls in a game. The other team gets bad calls. But officials dictating the outcome of a game drives me crazy.”
McAlexander picked off a pass to start the second half.
MA went 58 yards in eight plays to tie. Chase Ferrell scored on a 7-yard carry. A try-for-two failed.
North Delta answered quickly. On first down, Morris took an option toss and traveled 58 yards for six points. Pirtle kept for the two.
MA fired right back with more bullets. Fitzpatrick hooked up with McAlexander for 34 yards into the Green Wave’s territory. Ferrell scored on a 2-yard plunge. A two-point try again failed. Marshall tailed 28-26 late in the third.
Backed up at its own 13 midway through the fourth, North Delta struck with an 87-yard bomb from Pirtle to his older brother, Colby Pirtle. North Delta added the two.
Morris had a 1-yard touchdown run and carried for the two-pointer with 5:01 left. The Pats trailed 44-26.
MA sliced the final deficit on a 6-yard pass for six from Fitzpatrick to McAlexander with 56 seconds left.
In a game filled with big plays, the defenses also came up big at times. Both teams were denied twice on fourth-and-short opportunities.
“I thought we had two bad offensive possessions,” Donahoe said, “once early in the game when we were stopped on a fourth and one. Then at the start of the fourth quarter we stopped them on a fourth and inches, and trailing 28-26, we ran the ball three straight times and had to punt. I take the blame for those.
“In a game like this, it comes down to inches.”
Fitzpatrick was 19 of 27 passing for 247 yards. McAlexander caught 12 for 179 yards. The Pats had 136 yards rushing – 56 of those coming from Ferrell and 55 from Fitzpatrick.
Evan Hickman led the Marshall defense with 14 tackles. Tyler Cook had 13, Rappa 10, McAlexander eight, Zack Pritchett seven and Fitzpatrick six.
The Patriots host Class AAA Pillow Academy Friday night at 7:30 at Patriot Field. Both Donahoe and MA assistant coach Bart Jenkins have coached at Pillow.
“We have a monumental task ahead,” Donahoe said. “They’re the best 2-5 team I’ve ever seen.”
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