Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Eli Pearson (3) of Marshall Academy finds running room Friday night in the mud as two Sylva-Bay Saints pursue on the play.

Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Ben Shaw (7) gets a block from teammate Thomas Stewart (76) and turns the corner for a good gain.

Photo by Dillon Day
Ryan Brock (28) and Cade Crouch (23) take down a Sylva-Bay runner. In back is Will Hanggi (54).

Photos by Dillon Day
Buford McDowell makes a tackle. In back is Javion Smith (21).

Everette Jones carries.

Photo by Theresa Bolden Devore
Jeremiah Jones (2) picks up yardage for MA Friday night versus the Saints in the playoffs.

Patriots dominate in round one

• Tri-County next for MA

In a downpour Friday night, Marshall Academy produced the bulk of its points via the big play and advanced to round two of the Class AA state playoffs.

Four of the Patriots’ seven touchdowns came on plays of 50 yards or more as they swamped the Sylva-Bay Saints 50-12.

“It was sloppy; everything was wet and nasty,” head coach Barrett Donahoe said. “But we found a way to get it done and move on to next week.”

It was the Patriots’ 10th straight win to go to 10-2 on the season.

The first big play came on the first play. Ben Shaw found Ryan Brock open over the middle for a 60-yard touchdown connection. Justin McDoniel added the extra point.

The MA defense, which gave up just one touchdown on the night, halted the Saints on a fourth and 10 with Will Hanggi getting the tackle.

The teams swapped punts, and then with 9:57 to go in the second quarter, Sylva-Bay’s Atlee Hamm picked off a pass and returned it 45 yards for a score. The try-for-two was stopped short by the Patriots.

Later, the MA defense forced a turnover, Brock with the hit and Everette Jones with the fumble recovery.

Taking over at the Sylva-Bay 20, it took four plays to score. Brock ran 11 yards up the middle for the six and also cashed in the two-point conversion. MA was up 15-6 with 3:21 left until the half.

Less than 20 seconds later, Brock struck again. He picked off a Sylva-Bay pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion try failed.

After a Saints’ punt, MA looked for more points before intermission. On the last play of the half, Eli Pearson was pressured in the pocket, escaped and found running room. He zigzagged 60 yards for the touchdown, dodging the last defender at the goal-line. The try-for-two was unsuccessful. It was 27-6 at halftime.

Sylva-Bay’s offense got its first points midway through the third quarter. The visitors scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Sykes to Cade Blackwell and came up short on the two-point conversion attempt.

MA closed the first-round victory with three more scores.

Shaw took a handoff up the middle, picked up a block downfield from Jones and reached the end zone from 63 yards away. Pearson scored the conversion on a quarterback keeper. It was 35-12 with 4:58 to go in the third.

On the Saints’ next possession, Devarius Harris and Cade Crouch combined on a hit for loss and then on the next play,  Javion Smith recovered a fumble.

From the Sylva-Bay 25, the Patriots scored in six plays. The biggest gain came on a 19-yard pass from Shaw to Pearson, who made a diving catch. Crouch got the touchdown on a 2-yard run. The conversion was good on a shuffle pass from Pearson to Crouch.

A few plays later, Crouch’s interception and 29-yard return put the MA offense in business at the Saints’ 31. Shaw had a 22-yard run. Smith scored on a 2-yard carry. McDoniel added the extra point to complete the 38-point victory.

“I know the conditions were horrible tonight, but we have some things we have to clean up,” Donahoe told his team after the game.

“That’s four quarters, which means we have 12 more left (to win a state championship).”

Next up is Tri-County Academy this Friday night at Patriot Field. The Rebels crushed Oak Hill 33-13 in round one last week.

MA (10-2) is seeded first in the Class AA state playoff bracket and Tri-County (7-4) eighth.

However, Donahoe said, “Tri-County is one of the top five teams in the state, and it will be a war Friday night at Patriot Field.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Marshall-Tri-County winner will face the Amite School versus Prairie View winner on November 10 in the semi-finals.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
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