November 29, 2012
‘A great ride’
Marshall Academy and Brookhaven Academy combined for 13 touchdowns, 89 points and 906 yards of offense Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Cougars fired the most bullets in the fourth quarter.
MA’s quest for the school’s first ever state championship on the football field fell short, 49-40, in the Class AA title game at Millsaps College in Jackson.
The Patriots battled back from an early 14-0 deficit to trail 21-20 at the half. They led 28-27 entering the fourth quarter but could not hang on.
There were only two punts in the game – one by each team.
“Our kids did not quit,” said coach Bart Jenkins, who completed a very successful first year as head coach. “They showed tremendous heart. It was a great ride – a fantastic year. Our kids left it all on the field. It was an outstanding effort.”
Brookhaven senior quarterback Gage Posey was the thorn in Marshall’s side. He was 25 of 28 passing for 363 yards and six touchdowns. He ran for the Cougars’ other score.
Patriot senior QB sophomore quarterback Dakota Dailey was to the task, too, on the big stage. He ran for 172 yards and passed for another 167.
“We couldn’t get pressure (on Posey),” Jenkins said. “We tried every way. Plus, we used a variety of zone and man coverages. They (the Cougars) did a great job. We knew they had to throw the ball well to win, and they did.
“At the same time, I knew we could get in the ‘I’ and run with success and I knew we could throw it some, too. Dakota had a great game.”
Posey had touchdown passes of 43 and 22 yards to Matthew Evans and Caleb Brown in the first quarter. Kevin Nettles kicked both extra points. He was six of seven on the night.
Dailey and his favorite target, Aaron McAlexander, hooked up for a 19-yard score. McAlexander had five catches for 113 yards in the game.
Then 30 seconds after that score, McAlexander stepped up on defense. He snatched the ball from a Brookhaven runner and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
MA, failing on two two-point tries, trailed 14-12 after the opening quarter.
Just 17 seconds into the second period, Posey found Seth Rushing for 30 yards and the score.
MA then launched a 63-yard, 11-play drive that ate up five minutes. Von Watson had a 17-yard run. Zack Pritchett plunged into the end zone from 4 yards away. Dailey raced to the corner of the end zone for the two. The Patriots trailed by one, 21-20, and that score held until intermission.
The Patriots grabbed the momentum to start the third. Dailey kept the ball on the option and dashed 59 yards to the end zone. He also ran for the conversion. MA had its first lead, 28-21.
On second and eight for the Cougars, Watson picked off a pass but a Brookhaven player stripped the ball away and the Cougars recovered.
Then two plays later, Dailey intercepted a pass but it was nullified by penalty flags on the Pats.
The Cougars took advantage. Posey completed two long passes and then ran for the score from the 3. The kick was no good. MA clung to a 28-27 lead at the 9:52 mark of the third.
The Pats had a touchdown called back due to a motion penalty on its next possession and then could not convert on a fourth and goal from the 18.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Posey connected with Evans for a 14-yard touchdown. Brookhaven was back on top 35-28.
But MA, as it did consistently, responded. This 75-yard drive took just three plays. On second down, Dailey found McAlexander behind the defenders. The pass play gained 57 yards to the Cougar 20. Pritchett scored from there, carrying a Cougar with him for about 10 of the 20 yards. The kick was no good. MA was down by one, 35-34.
The wild and crazy fourth quarter continued.
At the 7:13 mark, Posey threw to Evans for a 32-yard touchdown. It was 42-34.
McAlexander bobbled the ensuing kickoff, picked the ball up and returned it 95 yards along the sideline for six points. A try-for-two was stopped short. Marshall was behind 42-40.
The Cougars then faced a third and 11 from their own 47. Posey tossed to Rushing, who caught the ball over the middle, made a spin move and raced 53 yards for the decisive touchdown with 5:58 left. Nettles added his sixth extra point.
MA made a desperation try at rallying but Evans picked off a pass in the end zone to seal the deal.
Marshall had 482 yards of total offense, while Brookhaven had 424.
Top tacklers for the Pats were Hunter Barringer and Watson with 10 each.
Brookhaven won its third state crown in football, the second in four years. The Cougars finished 11-4.
Marshall made its third championship game appearance – also coming up short in 2007 and 1988. The Patriots finished 11-3 – tied for the third most wins in school history. MA won 11 in 2011, 12 in 2007 and 13 in 1988.
“Our kids can certainly hold their heads high,” Coach Jenkins said. “We came up short, and but I’m very, very proud of them.”
He also thanked everyone for their support and togetherness.
“The support our school has is unbelievable,” Jenkins said. “We’re united – the administration, faculty, students and community. It’s truly something special.”
The Patriots lose 11 seniors.
“They’re all very, very special young men,” Jenkins said.
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