Photo by Theresa Bolden DevoreRod Moore (4) of Marshall Academy looks to escape some Lee Academy Colts as he picks up yardage Friday night at home.
MA wins thriller; playoffs await
Marshall Academy was looking to right the ship prior to the post-season.
The mission was accomplished thanks to a blocked punt for a touchdown and an interception late in the game. The Patriots, who had lost two straight non-district games after clinching the District 1-3A championship October 2, celebrated a 2720 win over 4A Lee Academy at home.
“We faced a lot of adversity but never quit,” head coach Tony Banks said. “I think you’re going in the right direction when you do that. “No doubt, this win gives us some mo-
mentum.” The Patriots receive a first-round bye
in the playoffs. They will face the Winona Christian-Amite School winner on Friday, Nov. 6, at home. It will be the Patriots’ 14th straight post-season appearance.
“We have an opportunity in front of us,” he said. “We have to go to work in practice and get ready.” Marshall gave up the lead last Friday with 4:25 left in the game. Lee scored from 1-yard out and added the extra point to go up 20-19. The offense sputtered, but Jimmy Morales nailed a 59-yard punt with 2:37 left and pinned the Colts at their own 15.
Jamarius Rooks had a big 5-yard tackle for loss. With a minute remaining, Lee had to punt from its 10. Colton Neal blocked it and recovered the football for a touchdown. Landon Houston ran for the two-point conversion to put the Pats up by 7.
The Colts, benefitting from a couple of MA penalties, moved the ball as far as the Marshall 20. Jack Smith sacked the quarterback for a big loss. Then Rod Moore picked off a pass to seal the victory.
Coach Banks said the defense, as it has many times this season, rose to the occasion prior to the blocked punt.
“We held them to a three and out,” he said. “They didn’t get a yard – in fact, they lost yards. We put ourselves in that position, to have the opportunity to block the punt.”
Penalties plagued the Patriot offense in the first quarter. Flags brought back three big plays and forced punts on MA’s first three possessions.
Meanwhile, the defense forced three and outs on Lee’s first three possessions.
“Our defense played extremely well,” Banks said. “That has been our strength all year.” The defense earned the initial touchdown of the night. Walker Sanders intercepted a pass and returned it 82 yards for six at the 10:13 mark of the second quarter. Keaton Morgan kicked the extra point.
The Patriot offense got things in gear on its next possession. Ethan Helton, Rooks and Nic Henry had big runs. On fourth and 2 from the 7, the ball was fumbled but the quarterback, Houston, was able to pick it up and reach the end zone. The extra-point try failed.
The Colts drove all the way to the Marshall 6 with time running out in the first half. But the MA defense got the stop on a fourth-and-three try.
It was 13-0 in favor of the home team at intermission. Lee got on the scoreboard with a 31-yard pass at the 7:20 mark of the third and also added the extra point.
Marshall went for the first on a fourth and 4 from its own 46. Helton gained 41 to the Colts’ 13. Henry cashed in the drive with a 9-yard run. A tryfor-two failed. MA was up 19-7.
The Colts got a big pass play to the Marshall 15. They picked up another first when the Patriots jumped offside on fourth and 1. The visitors scored on a 3-yard run with 2:12 left in the third. Henry blocked the extra-point try.
The teams swapped a couple of punts before Lee was able to put together a long drive and go ahead by one with just over four minutes left.
However, the Patriots were able to bounce back and snatch the thrilling win to close the regular season.
They will enter the playoffs with a 6-4 overall record.