Macon-East pulls away from Pike Lib in second half

Published 12:05 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots and the Macon-East Knights laced up and played Friday night, but it was the officials who stole the show in Cecil in a 34-13 Macon-East win.

The referees tossed out the yellow flag 29 times on the night, with 15 calls going against the Patriots and 14 against the Knights. However, 10 of the Knights’ fouls were procedure penalties; Pike was flagged for four times for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The 15 penalties wound up costing the Patriots 135 yards.

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Things started slowly for the Patriots as they only managed 26 yards of offense on their first drive of the game before punting.

The Patriot defense forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing Macon-East possession to set up the Patriot offense on the Knight 39-yard line.

The Patriots marched down to the Macon-East 21 yard line but failed to convert a fourth down pass from quarterback Rush Hixon.

The Knights would make Pike pay on the very next play when sophomore Jem Stubblefield took the ball 56 yards to the Patriot 20-yard line.

Following a procedure penalty, Stubblefield punched the ball into the Patriot end zone on a 25-yard read option. Daniel Lee tacked on an extra point to make the score 7-0.

The Patriots and Knights traded possessions for the remainder of the first quarter. Following a missed Knight field goal, the Patriots took over at their own 20-yard line. On the drive’s first play, Bubba Pugh intercepted a Brian Adams pass and returned it to the Patriot 36. Quarterback Will Grahan squeezed the ball in from one yard out to bring the score to 14-0 in favor of the Knights.

The Knights mounted one more drive in the first half, but Patriot Tullie Everett stood Stubblefield up in the backfield on a fourth down with 25 seconds remaining in the half.

Trailing 14-0 at the half, the Patriots came out with a fire in their belly and made it a ballgame.

John David Cox intercepted a Will Grahan pass to open the third quarter and set the Patriots up at Knight 34-yard line. Brian Adams connected with Rush Hixon on an 11-yard halfback pass seven plays later to pull Pike within seven.

Each team punted on their next two possessions to bring the game into the fourth quarter. With the clock ticking away and the Knights deep in Patriot territory, Adam Grice intercepted a Grahan pass and returned it 67 yards to put the ball on the Macon-East 19. Grice punched the ball in from two yards out three plays later to put the Patriots within one at 14-13. The Patriots failed to convert the extra point.

With everything going Pike’s way, Macon-East was in need of a big play, and Buuba Pugh delivered with a 54-yard kick return. Stubblefield put the Knights up 20-13 with a 21-yard touchdown run on the next play.

The game quickly began to get away from the Patriots. The offense stalled and had to punt the ball back to the Knights. Stubblefield scored on a 32-yard sweep to put the Knights comfortably ahead 27-13 with 5:12 to go in the game.

Stubblefield added one final score from 20 yards out to make the final 34-13 Macon-East.

Despite the loss, coach Gene Allen was pleased with the way his team compose itself. “We played our butts off in the second half,” Allen said. “I really liked the effort from the kids. We played classy and did what we’re supposed to do.”

The officiating did not escape Allen’s eyes. “I saw some calls tonight that I haven’t seen in 30 years,” Allen said. “We knew some calls would go against us.”

Linebacker Drew Starling paced the way for the Patriots on defense with 15 tackles and a fumble recovery. “Coach had us knowing what to expect on defense,” Starling said. “I felt that we were well prepared.”

“We were playing well in the second quarter until we gave up the two big plays,” Starling said. “After that we got down on ourselves.”

On the night, Jem Stubblefield ran through the Patriot defense to the tune of 269 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries.

Pike will look to right the ship when they return to region play against Escambia Academy next Friday in Troy.