Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Mitchell Lafever (50) and Will Hanggi (54) bring down a Magnolia Heights ball-carrier.

Photos by Theresa Bolden Devore
Davarius Harris (64) and Jordan Bowen (71) make a strong push as Marshall shuts down a Magnolia Heights running play.

Cade Crouch (23) looks for running room as a Chief hangs on.

Happy homecoming

• Patriots blank Chiefs in renewed rivalry

Homecoming night was about as sweet as sweet can get for Marshall Academy.

The Class AA Patriots, with what coach Barrett Donahoe called a “total team effort,” crushed Class AAAA Magnolia Heights 35-0. The two rivals had not played since 2014.

“What you just did means the world to this school and community,” Donahoe said with his team huddled around him after the game.

“We stayed focused the full game, and this win was special. We’re going to enjoy this one, at least through the weekend.”

The Patriots scored on their opening possession and never looked back. They drove 52 yards in seven plays. A couple of passes from Ben Shaw to Everette Jones were the big plays – the first for 16 yards and the second for 24 yards and a touchdown. Justin McDoniel kicked the extra point.

MA let another chance for points in the first quarter slip away. After Tyler Bolden picked off a pass and returned it 35 yards to the Chiefs’ 14, the offense bogged down at the 2-yard line.

The Patriots followed that with a couple of turnovers, but the defense stood strong, as it did all night long.

“Our defense played physical football, and when we want to, we can do that,” Donahoe said. “Defensively, we played with energy – big-time.”

The defense produced MA’s next points. Jones intercepted a pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. McDoniel’s kick made it 14-0 with 4:12 to go in the second quarter.

Big defensive plays by Mitchell Lafever and Will Hanggi forced a Magnolia Heights punt.

Six plays later, Shaw threw a deep pass, which Bolden caught in stride in the end zone for the 41-yard score. McDoniel was good on the kick for a 21-0 halftime advantage.

The Chiefs tried to grab the momentum to start the third. They drove to the Marshall 12. But on a fourth and 9 play, Cade Crouch broke up the pass.

Late in the third, the Patriots started a 65-yard, 10-play drive. Another Shaw to Jones completion, this one for 39 yards, pushed the ball to the Chiefs’ 28. Shaw ran for another first down. Javion Smith got the touchdown on a 1-yard plunge. McDoniel’s kick made it 28-0 with 11:57 left in the fourth quarter.

Tanner Taylor picked off a Magnolia Heights pass midway through the final period.

And on Magnolia Heights’ next possession, Drayton Potts got in on the interception act. He returned it 58 yards for the touchdown. McDoniel’s kick put the 35-0 final on the board.

“We played so much better – worlds apart from the way we played last week (a 21-14 win at Winona),” Donahoe said.

MA turned to the passing game, Donahoe said, because Magnolia Heights “is so good on the inside.”

Shaw was 12 of 19 for 147 yards. Jones caught seven for 77 yards.

Lafever led the defense with 10 and a half tackles. Smith had eight and a half, Crouch seven and Hanggi six and a half.

The Patriots have won six straight games to go to 6-2 on the season.

Next is a District 1-AA clash at Carroll Academy this Friday night. The Rebels are 2-3 overall and 0-1 in District 1-AA. Marshall is 2-0 in the district.

“This is a big-time conference game for us,” Donahoe said. “The games get bigger. We have to continue to get better.”

Holly Springs South Reporter

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