Thursday, November 3, 2011
Patriots roll past Raiders
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy simply took care of business Friday night in Grenada.
The heavily-favored Patriots beat District 1-AA rival Kirk Academy 42-26 to end the regular season at 9-1. The Raiders finished 4-7. Next up for MA is the state playoffs with Central Hinds coming to Holly Springs Friday for a first-round battle.
“Kirk is a well-coached team, and they came out and played with a lot of emotion,” said Barrett Donahoe, head coach at Marshall.
“They were well prepared and had a good scheme. We adjusted and made some big plays.”
MA scored on the game’s first possession, going 65 yards in just five plays. Trey Johnson caught an 18-yard pass from Kevin Fitzpatrick to move the ball into Raider territory. Fitzpatrick later had a 22-yard run to the 1. Chase Ferrell plunged into the end zone from there. The extra-point try was no good.
Midway through the first Kirk benefited from two 15-yard penalties on the Pats which pushed the ball to the Marshall 18. The Raiders’ Chase Carpenter carried for a 2-yard touchdown. Aaron McAlexander blocked the extra-point try.
With 16 seconds left in the opening quarter, Fitzpatrick scrambled and hit McAlexander in stride for a 59-yard touchdown. A try-for-two failed. The Patriots led 12-6.
Marshall increased its lead to 14 before the half. McAlexander intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it 30 yards. Then on second down, Chase Ferrell sprinted 45 yards for the touchdown. Zack Pritchett scored the two-point conversion.
The Patriot defense continued its solid play. Kirby Jones’ sack forced a Kirk punt on the next series.
Then the “D” forced a three and out to start the second half.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Patriots traveled 76 yards in six plays for more points. Neil Murphy provided some spark on runs of 16 and 19 yards up the middle. He had 82 yards rushing in the game on just eight carries.
Fitzpatrick and Johnson also hooked up on passes of 18 and 12 yards. Ferrell, who ran for 117 yards in the game and surpassed 1,000 yards for the season, scored on a 9-yard carry. Fitzpatrick threw to McAlexander for the two and a 28-6 margin.
“We made some halftime adjustments and came out and were successful running the football right at them,” Coach Donahoe said.
The Raiders used a flea flicker (a reverse pass) to get in position for its next points. The surprise play gained 54 yards to the MA 4. Kirk’s Cade Moody scored on a 1-yard run.
“The first-team defense, other than the 30 yards in penalties (two flags) on that one drive and then the trick play, played a great ball game,” Donahoe said.
The Patriots secured the win with Murphy’s 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and Pritchett’s 5-yard carry with 10:45 to go in the fourth. The latter score was set up by Ferrell’s 55-yard interception return. Andy Burleson kicked both extra points after the touchdowns. It was 42-13.
Moody added two late touchdown runs of 12 and 17 yards for the Raiders to slice the final deficit to 16 points.
Stat-wise, Fitzpatrick was 11 of 16 passing for 172 yards, upping his air attack total to 1,339 yards for the season. McAlexander caught five passes for 100 yards (he has 746 yards receiving for the season).
Leading the defense were Matt Rappa with 13 tackles, Evan Hickman with 10 tackles and a forced fumble, Kirby Jones with nine tackles and a quarterback sack and Murphy and Pritchett with nine tackles each.
Donahoe, in his first season as MA, said he knew his Patriots were determined when he looked in their eyes at halftime of the Magnolia Heights game to open the season.
“I knew we had a team that would play hard and put up a lot of points,” he said.
“We’ve improved defensively – coming up with a lot of big stops – and our special teams are much improved.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. I think against Pillow, we hit our stride.”
The Pats’ strong play must get even stronger as playoff time arrives. Central Hinds visits Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Patriot Field.
The Cougars from Raymond are are led by quarterback Jordan Currie, the second-leading rusher in Class AA in the state.
“They’re a good football team,” Donahoe said. “They’re very physical with a high-speed offense. Their quarterback is one of the best athletes we’ve seen all year. He will pose a problem for us defensively.
“Offensively, we have to be fundamentally sound in what we do Friday night.”
The MA-Central Hinds winner will face the Leake-Carroll winner in round two on November 11.
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