Fort Dale beats PLAS 34-22 in late game

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 26, 2001

Sports Writer

GREENVILLE – In Friday night’s season opener the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots

were trailing 34-14 with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter when the stadium lights fell asleep and didn’t awake until an hour later.

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The Patriots had fallen behind 34-0 late in the third quarter, but began a furious comeback scoring 22 unanswered points.

Then, without warning, a wave of darkness crept across the stadium leaving the fans in the dark. Coach Mack Williams said that this is the second time that this has happened to one of his teams while playing at Fort Dale. The last time was in1986.

Even though the Patriots eventually fell to the Fort Dale Eagles 34-22, Coach Williams was proud of his team’s fourth quarter effort. "I’m excited about the way they didn’t quit," Williams said. "I was especially proud of Druid Conrad. I think that he just got fed up with losing and started carrying the team."

All of the Patriots made key play

after key play, with Conrad’s contribution being a 53-yard reception from quarterback Layton Sanders.

Down 34-0 in the third quarter PLAS put together a four-play drive, as Bill Hughes carried the ball 31 yards on two plays to the six yard line. Freshman fullback Chance Kelley plowed his way over a Fort Dale defender from five yards out to put the Patriots on the scoreboard. The extra point kick went wide and Fort Dale still led 34-6.

Fort Dale senior quarterback Josh Till kept the Patriot defense on their heels during the first half with a combination of running and passing. But in the fourth quarter Till was picked off by defensive back Brent Hill. The interception was the Patriots’ second of the night, with Brandon HIll intercepting a pass right before halftime.

After the pick Sanders hit Conrad for a 53 -yard strike and then connected with Lonnie Ward for the two-point conversion.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Patriots behind by 20 points, 34-14, the blackout occurred. Surprisingly most of the fans sat through the hour-long intermission to see the end of the game.

Fort Dale had possession of the ball when the game resumed, but facing a fourth and 10 situation the Eagles decided to punt. A host of Patriot defenders broke through the line and blocked the kick with 3:14 left to play.

The Patriots took over at the Fort Dale 35 yard line and from there Layton Sanders took care of business. On a quarterback keeper Sanders scrambled 35 yards for his second touchdown of the night. On the Patriots’ two-point conversion attempt Sanders rolled right and found wideout Brandon Hill in the corner of the endzone.The Patriots cut the lead to 34-22, but with under two minutes remaining their comeback attempt stalled.

Williams said that he was disappointed in his offensive line. "We weren’t ready to play. I thought we were but we need to work on some things."

Leading the way defensively for the Patriots were Conrad, Kelley, Ward, Sanders, Brent and Brandon Hill, and Michael Dichiara. Coach Williams said that he was also impressed with the defensive effort by junior Brady Dunn.

"This team knows what to do. They have the skills they just have to taste some success,"Williams said.

Williams and the Patriots will face a big challenge next week in Troy against Mobile Christian at Patriot Stadium.