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Patriots heading to the AISA State Championship

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots scored 21 unanswered points in the second half on Friday night to secure a 35-15 win over Bessemer Academy in the AISA Class 3A semifinal.

The win sends the Patriots to their first AISA State Championship game since 2009. They will take on the Glenwood Gators at the Crampton Bowl in Montgomery.

“It was a huge accomplishment for the whole community and the Pike community,” Head coach Mario White said. “It was so sweet to come away with a win for all the guys, the people in the community and the administration at Pike, who supported me and what we were trying to do. To get to a state championship game and have a chance to play for it all means the world.”

The Patriots scored the game’s first two touchdowns Friday night. After the Patriots scored on their opening possession on a Kam Baker run, Jay Taylor hauled in an eight-yard touchdown pass giving the Patriots a 14-0 second quarter lead.

Bessemer came out in the third quarter and scored 15 unanswered points to take a 15-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Quarterback Mayes White connected with Taylor for a 62-yard touchdown with under a minute remaining in the third quarter. The Patriots went into the fourth leading 21-15.

After driving deep into Patriot territory, the Patriots turned the Rebels over on downs near the Patriot 15-yard line.

Kam Baker gave the Patriots a cushion a few minutes later when he rumbled his way in for a two-yard touchdown. With 5:18 remaining in the game the Patriots led 28-15.

The Patriots put the game away with 2:53 remaining when White connected with Elijah Caldwell for a 46-yard touchdown.

The Patriot offense put up 241 passing yards and rushing yards in the win. White led all rushers with 150 yards on 17 carries. White completed 14 of his 20 passes for 241 yards and he had three touchdowns. Taylor finished with three catches for 90 yards. Taylor led the defense with seven tackles.

The championship game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

“We are going to enjoy tonight,” White said. “After church (On Sunday) we are going to watch film and get a lift in and go to work like we always do. It’s just another week.”