Photo by Barry Burleson
Javion Smith (21) pressures the Oak Hill quarterback.
Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Tyler Bolden (4) catches a 58-yard touchdown pass Friday night versus the Raiders.
Photos by Theresa Bolden Devore
Ryan Brock (28) finds some running room versus Oak Hill Academy. In the background is Ben Shaw (7).
Everette Jones (22) causes a fumble, which teammate Tyler Bolden (4) recovered.
Patriots win district crown
It wasn’t pretty the first half but the end result was beautiful.
Marshall Academy, clinging to just a 6-0 lead at home, turned its effort up a notch after intermission and secured the District 1-AA championship with a 21-0 win over Oak Hill. MA also earned the top seed in the Class AA state playoffs.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” head coach Barrett Donahoe asked his happy Patriots after the game.
He said the early part of the game was “weird.”
“We just didn’t have any energy,” Donahoe said.
That changed after the head coach’s halftime talk.
Oak Hill received the second-half kick, and MA’s defense forced a three and out. On second and eight, Ryan Brock and Will Hanggi made the tackle for a 3-yard loss. A pass on third and 11 was incomplete.
After the punt, the offense got things in high gear – driving 84 yards in 10 plays. Ben Shaw lit the spark on the first play with a 32-yard carry. He ran for two more first downs and then a flag on the Raiders pushed the ball to the Oak Hill 11. Brock carried twice and then Shaw scored on a 3-yard run. Eli Pearson threw to Cade Crouch for the two-point conversion. MA was up 14-0 with 6:32 to go in the third.
“I’m proud of the way we came out and played to start the second half,” Donahoe said. “That first stop by the defense and then the offense taking the ball down and scoring – that’s responding.”
The teams swapped turnovers later in the third.
In the fourth, Oak Hill reached the MA 18-yard line. Then they threw four straight incompletions, with Javion Smith applying the pressure on fourth and 10.
The Patriot offense took over and traveled 82 yards in just seven plays to wrap up the win. Two big plays highlighted the drive. Brock got loose for a 31-yard gain to the Raider 40. Then three plays later, Shaw sprinted up the middle for a 33-yard touchdown. Justin McDoniel kicked the extra point and with 2:23 left in the game, the 21-0 final was on the board.”
It was the Patriots’ ninth straight victory to go to 9-2 on the season.
“We had a lot more focus on getting the job done in the second half,” offensive coordinator Sam Pearson said.
The only points of the first half had come via the big play with 6:32 to go in the second quarter. Shaw threw deep for Tyler Bolden, who made the leaping catch versus an Oak Hill defender for the 58-yard touchdown. The extra-point try was no good.
Tanner Taylor had a pair of 51-yard punts for the Patriots in the first half, and the Marshall defense stood tall several times, with Brock, Devarius Harris, Hanggi, Smith and Mitchell Lafever leading the charge.
Brock finished the game with 12 and a half tackles, Harris eight and a half, Hanggi eight, and Smith and Lafever with seven each.
“Our whole goal was not to let them score,” Donahoe said, “and we had a big-time effort defensively.”
On offense, Marshall had 220 yards rushing, with Shaw and Brock getting 215 of that. Shaw had 17 carries for 126 yards and Brock 15 for 89.
MA, with Shaw and Pearson sharing the quarterbacking duties, was five of 22 passing for 117 yards.
Sylva-Bay, the 16th seed in the playoffs, visits Patriot Field Friday at 7 p.m. MA will be at home, if it keeps winning, until the state championship game, which is November 16 in Jackson.
“It’s huge for us – having the home field advantage,” Donahoe said. “We told our guys all season that it’s the best opportunity for us to be successful through the playoffs. We’ve won nine games in a row now, and they’ve bought into that vision. Earning the number one seed is a testament to the hard work of all of these guys.”
He told his team the regular season is the end of chapter one.
“Each playoff game is a new chapter,” he said. “We have to focus on winning every quarter (16 total) in the playoffs. That has to be our mentality.”
This is the Patriots’ 11th consecutive trip to the post-season, however, this team will be striving for the school’s first state championship in football.
The winner of the Marshall Academy-Sylva-Bay Academy game will face the winner of the Tri-County Academy versus Oak Hill Academy game in the quarter-finals on Friday, Nov. 3.