Saturday, October 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Patriots outlasts Titans

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville defense held the Marion Patriots to a season low 20 points in Friday’s matchup at Jan Crow Stadium, but the Titan offense also scored less than any Marion opponent has all season in a 20-6 loss.

The matchup was, for all intents and purposes, to decide who would get the No. 5 seed and who would settle for the No. 6 seed from the 6A-East in the Class 6A playoffs that begin in two weeks. The five seed will almost certainly belong to Marion after Jacksonville’s performance on Friday against a defense that has given up an average of 29.4 points per game this season.

The Titans started strong, if not smart. Marion got the ball first and failed to get a first down. The Patriots went for it on fourth down and 5 from their own 22. Quarterback Jacob Green threw downfield where Jacksonville’s Deboious Cobbs was there for the interception. He would’ve been wiser to knock the ball to the ground. The interception gave Jacksonville the ball at the 44-yard line, while knocking the ball to the ground would have put it on Marion 22, but it didn’t matter. The Titans went right down the field.

Running back Shawn Ellis took a handoff for 9 yards on first down, and then rambled 33 yards on second down to the Marion 2-yard line. An illegal procedure penalty made it first and goal at the 7. Ellis then ran 2 yards, and on second down, caught a 6-yard pass from Shavarris Curley to give the Titans a 6-0 lead with 7:55 to play in the first quarter.

The extra point was flubbed, and that play was more indicative of the rest of Jacksonville’s night.

Marion started its next drive on its own 33, and running back Anthony Price went 57 yards on first down, setting up first and goal at the 10. He then had runs of 3 and 6 yards, and then a 1-yard run for the score that tied the game.

Marion also missed its PAT, and the score was tied with 6:33 left in the opening frame.

Jacksonville had four more possessions and Marion had three, but neither team managed another point the rest of the half. The Titans turned the ball over on the very first play after Marion’s touchdown with a fumble by Xavier Scott.

The Patriots ran six plays and got to the Titan 19-yard line before Harderrious Martin intercepted a Green pass at the goal line and ran it back to the 18-yard line.

Jacksonville got one first down on a 21-yard run by Ellis, but then punted. Marion started on its own 16, and a sack by Kalon McCoy pushed the Patriots back to the 9-yard line.

They got the first down on a scramble by Green, and Price broke loose for a 38-yard run before Martin came through again on defense. At the end of Price’s run, Martin caught up to the running back and knocked the ball loose. Jacksonville covered it at the Titan 20-yard line.

The Titans got all the way to the Marion 25-yard line, but an incomplete pass as time expired ended the half.

Jacksonville got it to start the second half but went three and out and punted. The Titans managed just 72 yards the entire second half.

The Patriots took over on their own 18 after the punt and put together a 15-play drive to take their first lead of the game. Marion converted third downs of 3 and 10 yards, and one fourth and 2 to keep the drive alive. Price ran 12 yards on the final play of the drive, and another missed extra point left it 12-6 with 4:35 to go in the third quarter.

Jacksonville ran just two plays before fumbling the ball away on the ensuing drive. Marion needed just two more plays to score again and set the final margin.

Price ran 5 yards on first down, and a 29-yard run on second down went for the score. The player ball carrier, as well as many other Marion players, could not be identified because of the Patriots white jerseys with white or silver numbers.

An unknown and unidentifiable Patriot converted the two points as well, setting the final margin with 3:08 to play in the third quarter.

The Titans had four more possessions and ran 27 plays the rest of the game, while Marion had three possessions and ran just 10 plays. But Jacksonville turned it over on downs its next two possessions, and the final two ended with interceptions.

Jacksonville finished with 210 total yards while Marion had 326. Ellis had 22 carries for 119 yards to lead the Titans (3-6, 2-4). Jacksonville will host league-leading Pine Bluff next week to end the regular season. The Zebras (8-1, 6-0) hammered West Memphis 33-7 on Friday to take over sole possession of first place in the 6A-East Conference.