Thursday, October 27, 2011
‘A hard-fought game’
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy had its second lowest point total of the season and Potts Camp its lowest.
The first edition of the intracounty football rival, involving two typically high-scoring offenses, turned into a hard-hitting defensive battle. The Patriots knocked off the Cardinals 21-9 Friday night in Holly Springs with a huge crowd on hand.
“To give up one touchdown to a Potts Camp team with great skill players – that’s an outstanding defensive effort on our part,” said Barrett Donahoe, head coach at MA. “We had some big stops.”
Shane Stone, head coach at Potts Camp, said, “I was pleased with our defense. We gave up some big plays, but as a whole, to keep them to 21 points, that’s pretty good for us. Twenty was the least they had scored all year.”
Marshall got three touchdown runs from quarterback Kevin Fitzpatrick, who had 118 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The biggest came on the final play of the first half with Potts Camp leading 7-6. He scrambled out of the pocket and dashed 21 yards to the corner of the end zone. He then caught a pass from Zack Pritchett for the two-point conversion.
“We got a break there just before the half (when Tyler Cook’s hit resulted in a Potts Camp fumble and Aaron McAlexander recovered), and Kevin made an amazing play,” Donahoe said. “It was the difference in the ball game.”
Coach Stone said, “Those few plays before half were big. They scored and the whole complexion of the game changed.”
The teams swapped punts early in the first period, plus the Cardinal defense stopped the Pats on a fourth and three inside the Potts Camp 40.
MA drove 65 yards to take the lead late in the first. Fitzpatrick got loose for 25 yards and the six. A try-for-two was stopped well short of the goal-line by Potts Camp.
The Cardinals answered on their next possession – going 51 yards for the go-ahead points. Brantley Harris had a big catch on a fourth-down conversion. Jamarquis Foster darted 14 yards for the touchdown. Giavanni Arrendondo kicked the extra point, and Potts Camp was up 7-6.
The Potts Camp defense again stiffened with 1:05 to go in the first half, halting the Patriots on a fourth-down try at the Cardinal 26.
Then the Cardinals had the turnover on the next play, which set up MA’s score just before intermission.
The next defense to step up to the task was Marshall’s. Potts Camp, on its first possession of the second half, drove 62 yards to the MA 3, largely behind the running of Jordon Harris and Foster. But there Marshall stopped the Cards just short of the end zone on fourth and goal.
The Patriot offense took over from its own 3, and on first down, Potts Camp’s Corinthian Echols made the tackle in the end zone for a safety. The Cards cut the deficit to 14-9 with 2:49 left in the third.
After the kick, Potts Camp had the ball at midfield. Cook, who had a team-best 15 tackles, made a big one for a loss in the series.
“We never panicked,” Donahoe said. “After the safety, we got a good kick, held them and then went and scored.”
The Patriots’ touchdown came with 11:13 left in the final quarter and wrapped up an 83-yard drive. Fitzpatrick completed a 14-yard pass to Elgin Lafever and then raced 42 yards for the six points. Andy Burleson kicked the extra point for a 21-9 MA advantage.
The never-say-die Cardinals started at their own 42 and went downfield quickly. Jordon Harris carried for the bulk of the yardage, including a 32-yard gain.
With 7:04 left, the Cardinals had a first and goal at the Patriot 7. On fourth and goal from the same spot, Trey Johnson intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the victory.
Marshall, handing the ball to Chase Ferrell for good chunks of yardage, ran out the clock. He finished with 109 yards rushing on 13 carries.
“Potts Camp has a very good football team,” Donahoe said. “Their kids played with a lot of emotion, and their coaches had a very good game plan.
“I like our kids’ ability to adjust to game situations. Our defense had to step up because of our lack of execution at times on offense.”
Coach Stone said, “It was a hard-fought football game by both teams. They made the big plays on offense, and we didn’t. A lot of little things cost us, but overall, I could not have been prouder of my guys for their effort. They came to play.”
Both head coaches spoke about the new football rivalry and their respect for one another and their teams.
“What’s exciting from an outsider’s perspective is the enthusiasm Potts Camp has for playing football,” said Donahoe, from Crystal Springs and in his first year at Marshall. “Their program is new (just in its third year) but I believe it is taking off. They have a good thing going with great fan support. It’s 100 percent positive.”
Stone said, “Coach Donahoe and his staff are doing a great job at Marshall. He had his team ready to play. We have a lot of respect for each other. It might be a new rivalry – but it’s a friendly rivalry.
“I did not see or hear any issues between the players. Both teams had high respect for each other. Between the lines of the football field, both teams fought hard, and when it was over they shook hands.”
Marshall had 355 yards total offense, with 276 rushing. Potts Camp finished with 176 yards total offense, 142 coming on the ground.
Other top tacklers for MA were Ferrell with 11 and Fitzpatrick, Neil Murphy and Josh Petree with eight each.
The Patriots (8-1) go to Kirk Academy this Friday night for a District 1-AA game to wrap up the regular season. Marshall will then likely host a first round playoff game on Friday, Nov. 4.
Donahoe said he expects no letdown against the rival Raiders this week.
“When you play a conference game, there cannot be a letdown,” he said. “Being 9-1 before we hit the playoffs is our goal.”
The Cardinals (6-4) wrap up their season Friday night with a road trip to New Site.
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