Same old story: big plays doom PLAS

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 22, 2000

Sports Writer

HOPE HULL – Big plays have killed the Pike Liberal Arts School all year. It has been the same story for the Patriots week after week. The script was the same at Hooper Academy Friday.

An interception leading to a touchdown and touchdown runs of 58 and 64 yards helped boost Hooper Academy past the Patriots, 30-20, in a AISA Class 3-A Region 3 football game at Davis Henry Field.

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"Same story," PLAS head coach Dwight Ward said. "We had a sound effort overall, but we just keep making mistakes at the wrong time."

The defenses controlled the game to open the first quarter before PLAS put the first points on the scoreboard midway through. After Hooper forced a punt, the Colts gave the ball back to PLAS following a holding penalty on the return and the Patriots drive continued at the Hooper 29. The Patriots took advantage as Layton Sanders hit Will Williams with a five yard pass for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead with :53 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Colts answered on the ensuing drive with their first big play. The Colts ran an option play to start the second quarter and quarterback Brennon Coon kept the ball, raced around the right side and down the sidelines for 58 yards and a touchdown. Coon added the two point conversion and suddenly Hooper had an 8-6 lead.

The Colts second big play came on the Patriots next drive. Following a nine yard loss by the Patriot offense, Hooper’s Justin McBee intercepted a Sanders pass and returned it to the PLAS 19 yard line. One play later, Luke Cassady plunged into the endzone from five yards out for a 14-6 advantage with 10:05 left in the first half.

The teams traded punts before PLAS’s final offensive possession of the half. A first down run by Joey Stallings and a 32 yard reception by Brandon Hill helped put the Patriots deep in Colt territory at the five. After two incomplete passes, Stallings caught an apparent touchdown for the Patriots, but a holding penalty negated the play. One play later, Williams was stopped at the five after a 10 yard reception on fourth and goal and PLAS turned the ball over on downs with under a minute to play in the half.

"That was big, we are playing with more momentum if we score, but those are the type of mistakes we have been making," Ward said. "But I can’t complain, the effort was there."

Hooper opened the second half with big play number three. Coon ran the option again, this time around the left side and down the sidelines for 52 yards on the first play from scrimmage down to the PLAS 29. The play set up a five yard touchdown run by Jeff Todd five plays later and Hooper jumped out to a 22-6 lead with the two point conversion.

PLAS fought back on the ensuing drive. The Patriots needed five plays to cut the Colt lead in half at 22-14. Mark Brown caught three passes during the drive for 43 yards, including a 26 yard strike for the touchdown. Sanders hit Bill Hughes with the two point conversion.

Hooper wasted little time in responding. After two false start penalties and an 11 yard run by Coon, the Colts used their fourth and final big play as Todd sprinted 64 yards to the endzone for his second touchdown with 6:16 left in the third quarter. Trey Kennedy’s run for the two point conversion gave the Colts a 30-14 lead.

The Patriots next drive started in great field position at the Hooper 47. The Colt defense stuffed PLAS on three plays and on fourth down, PLAS’s Druid Conrad couldn’t hold onto a pass from Sanders that would have given the Patriots a first down.

"Druid has caught some big ones all year, it was just one of those things," Ward said. "You can’t pinpoint one thing when we lose, it is a series of things we don’t do well."

The Patriot defense picked up the offense. Kyle Kelly’s sack of Coon on third down forced the Colts into a punting possession. Brent HIll busted through, blocking the punt and giving the Patriot offense the ball at the Hooper 15. Hughes rumbled for three yards and a touchdown with :13 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the Colt lead to 10 at 30-20. The Patriots couldn’t trim the lead to eight as Sanders’ pass attempt for the two point conversion was incomplete.

The defenses controlled the rest of the game, with neither team threatening to score in the fourth quarter.

Sanders finished 22-33 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. But the Colts running game rolled up 341 yards on the ground, 174 coming on three plays.

PLAS (1-8) travels to Dixie next week for their regular season finale.