Thursday, November 8, 2012
Patriots survive road test
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy withstood a huge first-round challenge Friday night on the road.
The Patriots scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to down a gritty Canton Academy squad 20-7 and advance in the Class AA state playoffs.
“That was the best thing that could happen – you got challenged big-time,” coach Bart Jenkins told his 9-2 Patriots after the game. “You had not been challenged in a long time. That was a challenge.”
The game was knotted at 7 at the half. Marshall had two touchdowns called back due to holding penalties in the second quarter.
The Panthers moved downfield on their opening possession. It was a 10-play, five-minute drive that came to a screeching halt when Zack Pritchett and Wood Morris hit Kraft McLean for a 3-yard loss on fourth and 1 at the MA 15.
The Pats then put together their own opening march, this one resulting in points. Dakota Dailey threw to Aaron McAlexander and Pritchett for first downs and then ran for two more. Devin McGreger scored on a 9-yard burst up the middle. Roy Billions’ kick made it 7-0 with 1:43 to go in the first quarter. It was a 14-play drive that lasted about six minutes.
Canton tied the game on the second play of the second quarter. Two big plays in the 72-yard drive were a 49-yard halfback pass from Chauncey Goodman to Lafayette Wales and a 26-yard reverse run by Zach Warren. Goodman scored on a 1-yard plunge. Dominic Sanderson kicked the extra point.
The Pats moved to the Canton 5 on its next series. But Dailey’s run to the end zone was called back, and the drive stalled.
On the Panthers’ next possession, McAlexander made the 30th interception of his varsity career.
On fourth and 8, it appeared the Pats had scored. But Randy Love’s diving snag in the end zone was called back due to another yellow flag. MA punted.
Each team’s defense shined to start the second half.
The fired-up and hard-hitting Patriot “D” held the Panthers to just 17 total yards after intermission.
And the Marshall defense came up with the biggest play of the contest early in he fourth.
Dailey picked off an errant Canton pass and returned it 40 yards for six points at the 10:57 mark. Billions’ kick put the Patriots up 14-7 and gave them all the momentum.
Canton was forced to punt on its next series. A high snap resulted in the punter trying to run for the first. But MA’s Von Watson stopped the play for a 2-yard loss at the Panther 29.
The Pats couldn’t cash in on the excellent field position.
Watson was up to the task again on the Panthers’ ensuing possession. They faked a punt from their own 26 and this time he made the big hit for a 3-yard loss.
Pritchett ran for 8 yards, Artemus (A.J.) Boyd for 7 and McGreger for 8 to the end zone. The extra-point try failed. It was 20-7.
Matt Rappa dashed any hopes of a Canton comeback when he sacked the quarterback for a 9-yard loss on fourth and six.
“I’m just really proud of our guys, staff and school,” Coach Jenkins said.
The Patriots earned 290 yards total offense – 208 on the ground and 82 in the air. McGreger surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 17 carries for 94 yards. Boyd followed with seven for 53. Dailey was seven of 15 passing. McAlexander caught five for 55.
The Panthers, who finished 7-4, had 155 yards total offense – 39 rushing and 116 passing.
Pritchett and Watson led the defense with nine tackles and one sack each. Rappa had eight tackles and a sack. Hunter Barringer and Antonio Love had seven and six tackles, respectively.
Marshall Academy will host District 1-AA rival Indianola Academy (6-5) in the second round. Game-time is 7 p.m. Friday.
Indianola is coming off a 34-28 win over Central Hinds in round one.
The Pats beat the Colonels 28-6 back on September 21 in the Delta. But, it was a 13-6 game entering the fourth.
“It’s always scary playing a good football team twice, especially when you beat them the first time,” Jenkins said.
“We have to go to work this week. We need intensity this week in practice that will carry over to the game Friday night. We must stay focused.”
The Marshall-Indianola winner will face the North Delta-River Oaks, La., winner the following Friday, Nov. 16, for the North State championship.
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