Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Ben Shaw (7) leaps for additional yardage Friday versus Tri-County, thanks to the blocking of teammates Leonard Fields and Jordan Bowen.

Photos by Theresa Bolden Devore
Reagan White (10) gains more yards after a catch.

Everette Jones (22) is tripped up after an interception.

Ryan Brock (28) tugs for extra yardage. In back are Jordan Bowen (71) and Jason McDoniel (53).

MA exits playoffs in round two

Tri-County and Marshall Academy combined for 21 points in the first quarter Friday night. It looked like it might be a scoring fest.

However, field conditions at MA due to lots of rain changed all of that.

The Rebels took a 16-7 lead into an hour-and-a-half lightning delay at halftime and went on to eliminate the Patriots 22-14 in round two of the Class AA state playoffs.

“Once that field deteriorated, it made it so difficult for anyone to score,” said Barrett Donahoe, head coach of the Patriots.

“Mid-second quarter field conditions got pretty rough, and then the second half it was just a sloppy field.”

The MA defense had its chances to halt Tri-County on its opening drive. The Rebels converted a third and seven, a second and 12, a second and 11 and a third and one. Greyson Smith plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out. The extra-point kick missed the mark.

“Those conversions on their opening possessions were huge,” Donahoe said.

The Patriots responded with an eight-play, 79-yard drive to take the lead. Ben Shaw threw to Eli Pearson for 15 yards and then ran for 11 yards into Tri-County territory. The ground game continued to produce, with Ryan Brock getting a first down and then Shaw again. Brock scored on a 9-yard carry. Justin McDoniel kicked the extra point for a 7-6 MA lead.

The Rebels answered quickly – traveling 69 yards in just four plays. Reed Cliburn picked up 53 yards on a toss sweep. Smith got the touchdown again, this time on a 2-yard carry up the middle. Cade Shepherd threw to Smith for the two-point conversion. The Rebels were up 14-7 with 1:59 to go in the first quarter.

The Patriots went three and out.

Then when Tri-County faced a fourth and 4, Devarius Harris sacked Shepherd for a 7-yard loss.

Later in the second quarter, the Marshall defense forced a three and out, but Tri-County’s punt pinned the Patriots back at their own 1-yard line.

On a third and 8 from the 3, Shaw was tackled in the end zone for a safety to put the Rebels up 16-7.

With just 19 seconds to go in the first half, Everette Jones picked off a Shepherd pass. He returned it 20 yards before being upended by the last Tri-County player in his path.

Thunderstorms delayed the game from 8:15 until 9:45 p.m.

The second half turned into a mud fest.

It opened with six consecutive punts, three by each team.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the MA offense had success. Starting from its own 16, Shaw ran for 21 yards and a first and then Pearson kept the ball for 13 yards and another first, this one to midfield.

A personal foul penalty on the Rebels moved it to the 35. Shaw completed the 84-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle. McDoniel’s kick sliced the deficit to 16-14 with 6:51 to go in the game.

An onside kick was recovered by the Rebels, who then put together a scoring drive of their own, this one covering 53 yards. The big play came on fourth and five from the Patriot 19 as Shepherd passed to Tyler White for the touchdown. The point-after kick missed the mark and MA was still within striking distance at 22-14 with 2:30 remaining.

Taking over at its own 40 after the kickoff, the Patriots went backwards a yard before Pearson threw deep for Tyler Bolden, who made the leaping catch at the Tri-County 32, a 29-yard completion.

After a 9-yard loss, the Rebels were flagged for a personal foul, moving the ball to the 26.

MA couldn’t gain any ground on the next three plays, faced a fourth and 10 and couldn’t convert in the last minute.

“There was no quit in our guys,” Donahoe said. “We played extremely hard. They did not want the season to end, and there were a lot of sad faces. And that’s what you want to see – you want to see that fight. I am very proud of their effort, hard work and dedication.”

Shaw finished with 145 yards rushing on 25 carries. The top tackler for the Patriots was Will Hanggi with 10 solos and three assists.

The Patriots had to battle through some injuries to key players all season long. Brock did not play in the second half Friday night.

“Ryan (Brock) going out was huge,” he said. “It changed our defensive and offensive game plan. It made us adjust (at halftime).”

Mitchell Lafever, injured in the last game of the regular season, took Brock’s spot on defense.

“Mitchell played his guts out; he is a true warrior,” Donahoe said.

“Injuries just built up on us all season and finally caught up with us Friday night.”

The Patriots finished the season 10-3, winning 10 consecutive games before the loss to Tri-County.

“It was a special season, really special,” Donahoe said. “A lot of guys stepped up and did things we didn’t know they could do. That shows this team’s character. And this team was together all season – as one.”

Tri-County advances to face Prairie View in the semi-finals. The other match-up in Class AA pits Centreville versus St. Joseph.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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