Thursday, November 10, 2011
MA eliminates Cougars
By BARRY BURLESON
Coach Barrett Donahoe called it a “risk versus reward” decision.
It proved to be the latter, as Marshall Academy turned a turnover into points to end the first half and went up by 20. The Patriots, playing at home Friday, then cruised to a 44-22 win over Central Hinds in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs. They upped their season mark to 10-1.
“I thought overall we did a very good job of executing the game plan – offensively and defensively,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better effort.”
The big momentum builder came with 1:00 to go in the second quarter. Kirby Jones’ hit forced a fumble, which teammate Aaron McAlexander recovered. Marshall Academy, already up 22-10, was 65 yards from the end zone with just one timeout remaining.
It was decision time for Donahoe – go for more points or run out the clock.
“We got that turnover, and we really wanted to put some more points on the board (before the half) and we were successful moving the ball,” he said. “We went to our two-minute drill and did a great job of execution.”
On the fifth play of the drive, quarterback Kevin Fitzpatrick kept the ball and dashed to the pylon at the corner of the end zone for the 7-yard touchdown. He then threw to McAlexander for the two-point conversion. MA left the field for intermission with a 30-10 lead.
“That was huge,” Donahoe said. “It basically sealed the game for us.”
That touchdown, though, was just one of three from Fitzpatrick in less than five minutes to wrap up one half and start another.
He ran 6 yards for six with 2:29 to go in the second period. Zack Pritchett added the two-point conversion.
At the half, Coach Donahoe said, “We told them the most important possession of the game was the one after halftime. We could put ourselves up by four scores, and we came out and did that. We distanced ourselves enough, and they never really regained any momentum the rest of the way.”
Fitzpatrick got loose and raced 51 yards for that touchdown with 9:58 left in the third. Andy Burleson kicked the extra point. The advantage was 37-10.
“Those three touchdowns right there were the type things that make you pleased as a coach as far as execution,” Donahoe said.
MA racked up 557 yards total offense – 314 of it rushing.
Fitzpatrick had 14 carries in the game for 135 yards and four touchdowns. He was 13 of 16 passing for 243 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Chase Ferrell carried 11 times for 87 yards. He caught four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
The MA defense was also up to the task against Central Hinds and its star quarterback Jordan Currie, the second leading rusher in Class AA. The Cougars had 280 total yards – 165 rushing and 115 passing.
“Coach (Bart) Jenkins had a great game plan defensively and our guys executed it position by position,” Donahoe said. “Our defensive ends, Kirby Jones and Evan Hickman, were disciplined according to the game plan and both played exceptionally well.”
Top tacklers were McAlexander with 12 (plus the fumble recovery) and Fitzpatrick with 11 (plus the interception). Others were Hickman with nine, and Ferrell and Matt Rappa with eight each. Jones, in addition to his forced fumble, had a sack.
Central Hinds took their only lead in the game with 8:08 to go in the first quarter, thanks to Pate DeMuth’s 26-yard field goal.
Marshall responded with an 80-yard scoring drive in nine plays. Trey Johnson and McAlexander caught passes of 19 and 37 yards. Fitzpatrick scored on a 1-yard keeper. Pritchett caught a pass for the two-point conversion.
After a Cougar punt that pinned MA at its own 4, the Patriots traveled 96 yards in only five plays to add more points prior to the end of the first quarter. Ferrell had carries for 16 and 37 yards, and McAlexander ran for 19. Fitzpatrick threw to McAlexander for 15 yards and then McAlexander ran for 9 more yards and the touchdown. The extra-point kick was blocked. The Pats led 14-3.
Central Hinds cut it to seven at the 9:42 mark of the second quarter. Currie darted 13 yards for the score. DeMuth hit the extra point.
MA’s three momentum-building touchdowns followed to push the margin to 27.
Currie scored on a 3-yard run midway through the third. The kick was no good. It was 37-16.
Early in the fourth, the Cougars drove 55 yards for more points to cut the deficit to 15. On a fourth and long, Currie threw to Lu Price in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown. A try-for-two was not successful.
The Patriots padded their lead with 9:44 left when Fitzpatrick threw short to Ferrell, who sprinted to the end zone on a 55-yard pass connection. Burleson’s kick capped the victory.
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