Thursday, November 22, 2012
MA rallies for North State crown
By BARRY BURLESON
Roy Billions had not attempted a field goal in a game all season. But he had confidence. So did his coach.
The senior kicker drilled a 24-yarder with 13 seconds left Friday night to win a Class AA North State championship for Marshall Academy and set off a huge celebration. The Patriots rallied from a 21-point deficit to knock off rival North Delta 23-21.
“I had to believe in myself,” said Billions, accepting congratulations after the game.
Coach Bart Jenkins, with players and fans huddled around him at midfield, said he dreamed the night before that Billions, new to the team this year, would come through in the clutch.
“I told Roy this morning at school that I dreamed last night (Thursday) he would kick a field goal to win the game,” said an emotional Jenkins.
He said he knew Billions was nervous, so he called an extra timeout prior to the kick to calm him down.
“What a truly special night,” Jenkins said.
It didn’t look so good for Marshall in the first half.
The Green Waves took advantage of a couple of Patriot errors to go up 14-0.
Late in the first quarter, a miscue on a punt gave North Delta a first and 10 at the MA 26. North Delta quarterback Tyler Pirtle got loose and carried the ball to the end zone from there. William Dean kicked the extra point.
A fumble on the Patriots’ next possession gave the Green Waves the ball back at the Marshall 42. Taylor Morris did most of the work for the home team, including a 2-yard touchdown plunge early in the second quarter. Dean’s kick made it 14-0.
Later in the first half, Antonio Love’s sack of Pirtle left North Delta with a third and 22 from its own 11. Pirtle launched a bomb for Austin Hagstrom, who made the catch and finished the 89-yard scoring play. Dean’s kick put the home team up by 21.
“Even at that point, I felt that we were playing so much more physically than them,” Coach Jenkins said. “I was still very, very confident. We were extremely physical.”
A never-say-die Marshall squad answered with a long pass of its own. Dakota Dailey and Aaron McAlexander connected for a 65-yard touchdown at the 3:19 mark of the second quarter. The extra-point kick was no good.
The 21-6 score held until halftime.
“I knew if we could get it going on offense, we were going to take over, and we did that in the second half,” Jenkins said.
The big spark came with 1:29 to go in the third. That’s when Dailey threw to McAlexander on a crossing pattern. The senior receiver avoided a would-be tackler and dashed along the sideline for a 39-yard score. Dailey cashed in the two-point conversion. MA trailed 21-14.
To start the fourth quarter, North Delta went for a first on fourth and five from midfield. A pass was incomplete.
The fired-up Pats struck one play later. Devin McGreger found running room in the middle and then outraced some North Delta players for a 50-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was no good. Marshall had cut it to 21-20.
The Green Waves got a pair of first downs, then a costly unsportsmanlike penalty, and faced a fourth and 10 at the MA 34. They went for the first and again, a pass try failed.
On first down, McGreger exploded for 16 yards to the 50. Then on a third and 11, Dailey was almost sacked, but somehow escaped and picked up 22 yards to the North Delta 29. Zack Pritchett earned the next first, gaining nine yards to the 11.
The Patriot running game pushed it to the 7 but faced a fourth and six with 18 seconds left.
That’s when Jenkins called on Billions, who made the coach’s dream come true.
“I’m so proud to be a Marshall Patriot,” Jenkins shouted to his team and MA fans after the game.
The Marshall defense turned in a stellar effort, corralling North Delta’s Pirtle most of the night and hitting him for losses several times. Leading a tough defense was Von Watson with 12 tackles. Matt Rappa had 10, Pritchett nine and Antonio Love eight.
“When we get the tremendous production out of our front seven (on defense) like we did tonight, we’re hard to beat,” Jenkins said.
Offensively, McGreger ran 17 times for 121 yards. Dailey was seven of 18 passing for 144. McAlexander caught six
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