Solid finish seals Patriots’ win
With 23 seconds remaining in the game, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots led the Bessemer Academy Rebels by two, 16-14. The Patriots had pushed and shoved their way to the Bessemer 15-yard line, but the drive had stalled and the Patriots did not want to allow the Rebels an opportunity to score again.
On fourth and 10, Bessemer’s defensive unit put all their chips on the run expecting the Patriots to attempt to drain the clock.
Quarterback Trey Walters did the exact opposite though and lobbed a pass over the top to a wide open, tight end Sam Carroll for a touchdown to seal the victory.
The Patriots late seven pushed the score to 23-16 and tabbed win No. 6 on the season.
“They have a good football team,” Patriots head coach Steven Kilcrease said on the opposition. “We said all week that they are coming off of two losses and we would have to try to jump on them early. We didn’t do it though.”
The game started as a defensive slugfest and looked as if it would be a battle of heavyweights all night. The Patriots fumbled away their first possession to the Rebels after seven offensive plays to start the game. The Patriots defense stood tall though in their first action holding the Rebels on four downs.
Offensive woes continued for the Patriots early on their ensuing possession, and they were forced to punt it away.
“We made some early mistakes,” Kilcrease said. “We had an early turnover that cost us.”
The Rebels took over with 4:08 left in the first quarter after a solid Patriots punt on their own 11-yard line. The Rebels ran seven plays and used a few penalties against Pike Liberal to work their way to the Patriots 36-yard line.
Running back Tevin Spears of the Rebels turned on the jets for all 36 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
The Patriots fumbled their next drive, but the defense came through in big fashion again setting up the red, white and blue’s first score of the night.
The Patriots moved the ball 65 yards in six plays to get on the board. Taylor Stephens romped 18 yards to finish the drive for the touchdown. He had 40 yards rushing on the scoring drive to tie the game at seven each.
Neither team would score again until 1:11 left on the third quarter clock.
The Patriots got on the board for the second occasion of the night when Trey Walters connected with tight end Ashton Davis for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The touchdown capped off a 12-play, 75-yard drive and burned just under five minutes off of the clock.
The Patriots added two more to their lead on the next possession when Bessemer quarterback Austin Gray was flagged for intentional grounding in his own end zone. The Patriots backed up Bessemer on the kickoff to their own five, and the defense made it worth the effort.
The safety gave the Patriots a 16-7 lead with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Bessemer responded to the mistake with a touchdown on the next drive to bring the score within two. In just three plays, C.J. Smith made a swift left cut to burn the Patriots defense for a 33-yard touchdown to bring the score within two points.
The Patriots burned over nine and a half minutes with 17 plays and a touchdown to lead to the final score. Two holding calls on the Patriots helped seal the deal as well.
“The penalties gave us two extra plays, and that helped us burn off some clock,” Kilcrease said. “That was a big drive for us to close out the game.”
The Patriots are back in region action next week against Macon-East.