Patriots heading back to state championship game

Published 11:02 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

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Hours after finding out about the sudden resignation of head coach Mario White on Friday, the Patriots hit the field for the semifinals of the AISA Class 3A state playoffs.

For the second consecutive season the Patriots advance to the championship after they knocked off Glenwood 29-6.

“Credit completely to the guys,” coach Rush Hixon said. “Our guys have dealt with a lot today, this week. All the Credit goes to our guys and what they bought into doing. Really proud of them.”

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The Patriots jumped on the board first late in the opening quarter. Kam Baker had a run of 26 yards early in the Patriots scoring drive. Four plays later, Baker finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

Gavin Williams scooped up a Gator fumble on the next drive, setting the Patriots up on their own 40.

Quarterback Cason Eubanks had runs of 11 and seven yards and finished the drive with a 25-yard completion to Aaron Greenwood and the Patriots led 14-0 with 8:57 remaining in the half.

The Patriots were in position to add more points in the first half, but costly penalties and turnovers kept the Patriots out of the endzone the rest of the half.

After an interception the Gators crept inside the Patriot five yard line with less than a second remaining. On the last play of the half, the Patriots kept the Gator quarterback out of the endzone, preserving Pike’s 14-0 lead heading into halftime.

The Patriots were set to receive the second half kickoff, but Glenwood attempted an onside kick and picked up the football.

The Patriots defense forced a three-and-out and took over on their own 14. The Patriots embarked on an eight play, 86-yard drive ending with a 25-yard touchdown run by Kam Baker, bringing the score to 21-0 midway through the third quarter.

Three possessions later, Glenwood broke up the shutout with a lengthy drive of their own. They went on a 12-play, 63-yard drive, ending with a six-yard touchdown catch, bringing the score to 21-6 with 11:09 remaining in the game.

Later in the fourth quarter an altercation on the Glenwood sideline led to multiple ejections on both teams. Despite losing some players, Hixon was pleased with how his players rebounded near the end of the game.

“We had ejections and we had other guys come in and make huge plays down the stretch,” Hixon said. “That’s when it becomes the team, rather than just a couple of people.”

After the delay, the Patriots scored one final touchdown when Ian Foster ran in for a 32-yard score. After a successful two-point conversion by Markelis Hobdy, the Patriots led 29-6.

The Patriot offense finished with 375 total yards, 243 of which came on the ground. Eubanks rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries. Eubanks completed six of his 15 passes for 132 yards.

Defensively, Baker led the way with 12 tackles.

“You can’t say enough about the guys,” Hixon said. “It’s all about them, 100 percent. They dealt with a whole lot of adversity just today. Their minds have been in a lot of places, but it’s a credit for what they have done all year. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Patriots now advance to next Friday’s championship where they will take on Tuscaloosa Academy, who beat Lee-Scott 26-13 on Friday night.