Photos by Dillon Day
(Left photo) Tyler Bolden (4) breaks up a pass in the end zone. (Right photo) Canaan Pearson (3) turns the corner and tries to shed a Panther.
Photos by Dillon Day
Eli Pearson (2) keeps versus Canton Academy Friday night. Providing blocking help, in back, is Everett Hickman (55).
Whitt Rodgers (33) goes eye-to-eye with a Canton ball-carrier.
Everette Jones (80) and Ryan Brock take down a Panther.
Boyce McKinney (88) looks for extra yards after a catch.
Coach Barrett Donahoe shouts instruction to his team.
Canton ousts MA in semi-finals
Marshall Academy’s football season ended Friday night in the state’s final four.
The Patriots lost a rough-and-tough battle, 54-20, at Canton Academy and concluded a successful season with a 9-4 record.
“Our guys are small, fast and gritty on defense, but Canton’s size up front finally caught up with us,” coach Barrett Donahoe said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t focused, we just were not able to physically hold up to them.”
He is proud of his squad for advancing all the way to the semi-finals.
“These guys played well all year,” Donahoe said. “I’m glad to have had the opportunity to coach this group.
“They should be proud of what they accomplished. They have given a lot to this football program – lots of hard work and dedication.”
The Patriots shocked the home team and its fans in the early going Friday night at Canton.
MA scored on the game’s first possession. Eli Pearson threw to Wil Summerlin, who made the catch with a defender nearby and raced the rest of the way for the 53-yard touchdown. Justin McDoniel added the kick.
The Marshall defense stopped the Panthers on a fourth-and-1 try, and the offense was back in business.
Three plays later, Canaan Person burst through a big hole on a draw play and dashed 45 yards for more points. The extra-point kick failed. MA was quickly ahead 13-0 with 7:36 to go in the first quarter.
By the end of the opening period, Canton had battled back to trail by just one.
Kyle Kindred connected deep with Keyshawn Clanton for a 47-yard score. The extra-point kick failed.
Then with 45 seconds to go in the first, Kindred scored on a 3-yard keeper. A pass attempt for the two-pointer was incomplete.
MA was up 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The two teams swapped interceptions to start the second quarter. Wesley Bolden picked off a pass for the Pats.
After the Panthers’ pick, by Patrick Sundridge, they drove 43 yards to take the lead for good. Kindred again performed scoring honors, this time for 1 yard away. He also kept for the two-point conversion and a 20-13 advantage.
A fumble recovery sparked Canton’s next push for points. The home team recovered at the Marshall 22-yard line. After Clanton’s first-down run and another 6-yard gain, Ben Barr plunged into the end zone on second and goal from the 2. The first of four extra-point kicks by Ryan Lindsey made it 27-13 with 4:41 left in the second quarter.
A minute and a half later, W. Bolden recovered a Canton fumble at the Panthers’ 47-yard line.
MA went the distance in six plays to slice the deficit. E. Pearson had completions to C. Pearson (18 yards) and Jacob Gadd (19 yards). Then he found Summerlin over the middle for the 8-yard touchdown. The Pats, with 36 seconds remaining until intermission, trailed 27-20 after McDoniel’s extra-point kick.
The Panthers used a couple of big plays to get in field-goal range. Lindsey nailed a 32-yarder to give them a 30-20 lead at the break.
The second half was all Canton.
The Panthers added another field goal, this one from 38 yards, with 9:47 to go in the third.
They scored three more touchdowns. Two came on runs by Clanton, of 1 and 3 yards, and the other on a 1-yard carry by Barr. The last two came after MA turnovers.
“Physically, they took it to us, plus we made some mistakes,” Donahoe said. “Canton was really well prepared.
“We had not been down by more than one score in any game this season, except the fourth quarter of the Holly Springs game. I think that hurt us some mentally in this game, but our guys kept battling.”
MA had 263 yards of total offense – 178 of that through the air. Summerlin was the leading receiver with four catches for 66 yards. C. Pearson ran the ball 15 times for 63 yards.
Leading the Marshall defensive effort were Ryan Brock with 10 tackles, Mitchell Lafever with eight, C. Pearson with six and a half, Ryan McAlexander with six and Summerlin with five.
It was the Patriots’ 10th consecutive season to make the state playoffs.
“That’s a tradition of tremendous success,” Donahoe said. “It says a lot for our school and our kids.”