Thursday, November 15, 2012
Patriots advance to north title game
By BARRY BURLESON
It was hard for coach Bart Jenkins to pinpoint one key moment from Marshall Academy’s playoff win Friday night.
There was the bad snap by Indianola with the visiting team knocking on the door near the end of the first half.
There was his team’s go-ahead drive to start the second half.
There was MA’s defensive stand at the beginning of the fourth quarter and ensuing 11-play march to put the Patriots up by two scores.
Bottom line, Marshall is going to the Class AA state semi-finals for the second straight season after a 20-15 victory over Indianola. It was their second win over the Colonels this season.
“There were so many big plays in the game,” said Jenkins, whose team won its fifth straight game to improve to 10-2. “We stepped up several times and got the job done when we had to have it.”
Marshall won the toss, but deferred until the second half.
“That, too, turned out to be big,” Jenkins said.
Indianola got one first down on the opening possession before punting.
The Pats, taking over at their own 37, overcame two penalties when quarterback Dakota Dailey launched a bomb for his favorite receiver, Aaron McAlexander, who caught it in stride for a 61-yard touchdown. The extra-point try failed. It was 6-0 with 6:53 to go in the first.
Indianola answered – going 73 yards in 12 plays. Ashton Knight was the workhorse. He scored on a 3-yard carry. Quarterback Jonathan Holland kept for the conversion, and Indianola led 8-6 with 1:28 left in the first.
Late in the second quarter, Indianola used its running game to eat up yards and reach the Marshall 3, where it had a first and goal.
On first down, Zack Pritchett hit the ball-carrier for a 3-yard loss. On second down, a bad snap sailed over the quarterback’s head for a loss of 21. Indianola failed to score and went to intermission leading 8-6.
“Coming out of the locker room after halftime, we knew what we needed to do,” Coach Jenkins said.
And the Patriots did just that. A pooch kick was caught by Stephen Elgin at MA’s own 45. Dailey darted to the end zone on first down, but an assortment of penalties on both teams left the Pats with a first down at the Indianola 35.
Marshall was later flagged for holding and faced third and a bunch. That’s when Dailey scrambled under pressure and found an open McAlexander for 45 yards to the Indianola 4.
Pritchett scored on a 1-yard plunge with 9:14 to go in the third. Dailey ran for the two and a 14-8 lead.
On the Colonels’ next possession, McAlexander picked off a pass, the 31st of his varsity career.
The teams swapped punts and then Indianola recovered a Patriot fumble at its own 36.
To start the fourth, the Colonels moved to the MA 19, threatening to regain the lead. But they were stopped three yards short on a fourth and five try.
The Pats took over at their own 17 and used 11 straight running plays to pretty much seal the deal.
“In that drive, we used a new formation that we just put in last week,” Jenkins said.
Ball carriers included Devin McGreger, Pritchett, Dailey and Artemus (A.J.) Boyd. McGreger concluded the 83-yard, five-minute march with a 2-yard touchdown carry. The try-for-two failed, but Marshall was up 20-8 with 5:20 left.
In their next possession, the Colonels used a fake punt to stay alive. They also benefitted from an unsportsmanlike conduct and offsides flags on the Pats. They managed to slice the final margin to five with a 3-yard score and point-after kick, but only 45 seconds remained on the clock.
Their onside kick try was not successful.
“Great job – way to fight,” Jenkins told his Patriots at midfield after the game.
MA rushed for 133 yards, led by Dailey’s 58 on 11 carries. He was seven of 12 passing for 153 yards. McAlexander caught six for 145 yards.
Indianola had 225 yards rushing and 33 passing.
Matt Rappa “had by far his best game,” Jenkins said. He had 17 tackles.
Other top tacklers were Hunter Barringer with 11, Pritchett with 10, Antonio Love with 10, McAlexander with nine and Von Watson with seven.
Next up is a rematch with North Delta, a district rival that beat Marshall 35-27 back on September 28 – the Pats’ last loss. Game-time for the north half title game is 7 p.m. this Friday in Batesville.
The Green Waves have beaten the Patriots three straight times. MA’s last win in the series was 6-0 in 2009.
“It will be a war like it always is,” Jenkins said. “The thing we have to do is sustain drives and cut out the penalties. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot against a great team like North Delta.”
The Green Waves are also 10-2 after a 41-7 blowout of River Oaks, La., last week in round two of the playoffs.
The Marshall-North Delta winner will play Friday, Nov. 23, in Jackson versus the Simpson-Brookhaven winner for the Class AA state championship.
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