Thursday, August 23, 2012
Patriots ‘come together’ for 28-10 win over Chiefs
By BARRY BURLESON
It took almost a half Friday night for the newness to wear off.
Then this edition of Marshall Academy football, with 15 of 25 players new on the roster, took control of its season opener and rolled to a 28-10 win over Magnolia Heights.
“When it got tough and it got hard, it was all heart,” an emotional first-year head coach Bart Jenkins told his Patriots after the win. “I’ve never seen a team come together like that in the middle of a game.”
It was all Chiefs in the early going at Patriot Field. Behind the running of Fernando Van Hook, a Memphis University School transfer, the visitors started the game with a 68-yard scoring drive. Van Hook had 44 of those yards, including a 19-yard dash to the endzone. Colin Liles kicked the extra point.
The penalty bug bit the MA offense on its first series. Later in the first quarter, the teams swapped fumbles. Dakota Dailey forced the Chiefs’ turnover with Antonio Love recovering.
Magnolia Heights gambled on fourth and 10 in Marshall territory early in the second period. Aaron McAlexander tipped the ball away from the intended receiver.
The MA offense got in gear and capitalized. The Patriots, largely on the legs of quarterback Dailey, marched 68 yards for points. He scored on a 5-yard keeper and also ran for the two-point conversion.
The Pats led 8-7 at the half.
“We have so many guys who have never played together,” Jenkins said. “We got off to a slow start but we stayed together.
“At halftime, with all the new guys, everybody was humble and focused. We made some adjustments. There was no panic. Everybody listened. Then I heard some of the seniors say, ‘We’ve got this.’”
That confidence was evident to start the second half. Devin McGreger returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Magnolia Heights 45. Dailey then threw deep to McAlexander, who got behind a Chief and made the leaping catch for 33 yards. Artemus Boyd reached the end zone standing from 11 yards out. McAlexander, defended by two Chiefs, snatched the ball away for the two-point conversion. The lead was 16-7.
Three minutes later Liles kicked a 32-yard field goal for Magnolia Heights to slice the visiting team’s deficit to six.
The Dailey to McAlexander connection struck again. This pass play gained 40 yards with McAlexander again going up high between two Chiefs to make the spectacular catch. McGreger ran for a first, and Dailey threw to Colt Lindsey for another. Dailey scored on a 5-yard run. The extra-point kick was no good. Marshall was on top 22-10.
Vince Hoyt recovered a fumble on the Chiefs’ next possession.
Dailey then recorded his third touchdown of the evening, this one a 53-yard dash along the sideline at the 10:35 mark of the fourth quarter. The point-after try failed.
The MA defense shined in the fourth. Zack Pritchett had a big quarterback sack. McAlexander and Randy Love had interceptions.
It was the Class AA Patriots’ second straight victory over their Class AAA rivals from nearby Tate County.
“We did a great job up front (in the offensive line),” Coach Jenkins said, “and a great job on defense. That’s the fastest kid (Van Hook) we will play all year.”
He ran for 157 of the Chiefs’ 189 total yards on 20 carries.
The Patriots had 287 total yards, 194 rushing and 93 passing. Dailey carried 12 times for 108 yards. He was six-of-nine through the air for 93 yards. McAlexander caught four for 82.
Antonio Love and Matt Rappa were the defensive leaders for Marshall. Love had 11 tackles and Rappa 10.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Jenkins said. “They showed all the heart in the world. Plus, they play extremely hard and they’re in fantastic shape.
“Our guys just have to focus on getting a little better each week.”
Next up for MA is a Friday night road trip to Tunica Academy, which lost 18-14 last week to Greenville Christian.
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