Patriots survive Colt charge, hang on for win
When the Pike Liberal Arts School Patriots squared off with the Colts from Hooper Academy Friday night, it was a tale of two halves to say the least.
The Patriots came away with the 47-34 win Friday night in their region opener at Dewight Ward Field at Delaney Kervin Stadium, but the game was a blowout for a while.
“We played really well in the first half,” PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “We just gave up too many big plays in the second.”
The Patriots (2-0, 1-0 AISA AAA, Region 1) built a 40-7 lead by halftime and Kilcrease had pulled all the starters for the second half of action.
“I don’t believe in running the score up on anyone,” Kilcrease said.
Hooper opened up the game with an attempted onside kick that failed reaching the required distance. Pike took only six plays to reach the endzone and junior fullback Justin McLaughlin barreled in from 11yards out for the opening score. McLaughlin had 109 yards rushing in the game.
Before the Colts could get rolling, Pike junior linebacker Blake Thomas picked off a pass to start Pike’s second possession deep in Hooper territory. Six plays later, junior quarterback Trey Walters rushed in from the one yard line and senior wide receiver Douglas Hawkins added a two point conversion for the 15-0 lead.
Just two plays later, Walters intercepted the Hooper quarterback and returned it to the Colt one yard line where McLaughlin would punch it in.
The Colts’ frustrations continued on their next possession. Just as they seemed to be getting a drive together, the Colt running back coughed up the football and Hawkins recovered.
After three consecutive punts and a Bradley Floyd interception, Pike produced a 99-yard, nine-play scoring drive capped by a four-yard dash around left end by senior tailback Jerel Foster. Foster recorded 114 yards on the night.
Pike senior linebacker Corey Goodson got into the act on the very next play as he intercepted a Colt pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 34-0 lead.
Hooper’s only bright spot of the half would occur on the ensuing kickoff as they returned the kick 82 yards for a score.
The Patriots drove 61 yards in and pushed the lead to 40-7 before the half.
If not for two crucial penalties, Pike’s lead could have been much more at intermission. A Hawkins punt return for a touchdown and a 30-yard run by the Patriot slot receiver were both called back.
Goodson grabbed his second interception of the night on Hooper’s first possession of the half giving the second string offense great field position at midfield.
Josh Taylor would carry three times for 46 yards including a 25-yard scoring run right through the heart of the Colt defense.
Taylor also added the PAT for a 47-7 lead.
But Hooper’s players, coaches and fans did not think so. They scored 27 points on their next four possessions.
“We (the coaches) tried to grow some depth and we did,” Kilcrease said. “It just wasn’t pretty.”
The clock and Pike’s starters returning midway through the fourth quarter kept the Colts from victory.
“You know, it’s a region win and we came out healthy,” Kilcrease said. “That is all we wanted. Now it’s time to go back to work and prepare for Fort Dale.”
The Patriots travel to Greenville next Friday night for their second consecutive region game against Fort Dale Academy.