‘Horns season ends with loss to Pike Liberal
TROY – The score was tied at the start of the game, but that was about as close as it got between Pike Liberal Arts and Marengo Academy Friday night.
The Patriots dominated in all phases en route to a 55-13 win over the visiting Longhorns.
PLAS led 55-0 in the third, when the officials started a running clock to speed up the end of the game.
“I thought we came out and played really well,” said head coach Steven Kilcrease. “We had a good week of practice, and that really carried over tonight, I felt. We just played well in all phases of the game.”
The blowout seemed inevitable from the get-go, as Marengo went three-and-out on the opening possession and Pike Liberal responded with a five-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a five-yard Daniel Powell touchdown run.
PLAS forced another three-and-out following the kickoff, and then went 67 yards in seven plays to go up 14-0. Senior quarterback Trey Walters finished the Patriots’ second scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Walters got it going through the air as well, throwing two touchdown passes of 24 and 24 yards to Sam Carroll and Blake Thomas, respectively.
Walters finished the game 4-7 for 99 yards and two touchdowns and did not throw a pass in the second half. Walters also led the ground game, rushing five times for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Defense was also huge for PLAS. The Patriots forced four turnovers and held Marengo to just 35 yards of total offense in the first half.
“I thought the defense played really well,” Kilcrease said. “We stuffed the run, and we forced some turnovers, so we need to continue to play that well next week.”
The Patriots’ special teams got it going as well, as PLAS returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown.
The punt was first, as Powell returned the Marengo punt 70 yards for a touchdown with just 1:34 remaining in the first half to put PLAS up 42-0 at the break.
Thomas then returned the opening kickoff of the second half 71 yards for a touchdown, something Kilcrease said the return team had predicted in the locker room.
“With that kickoff return at the start of the second half, some of the guys told me, ‘Coach, we’re going to return one for a touchdown,’ and then they did, so that was pretty special,” Kilcrease said.
The excellent play on special teams was something Kilcrease contributed to execution.
“Special teams were big tonight,” Kilcrease said. “We really work hard on that throughout the week. Tonight we just executed, and we were able to win the battle there. On those returns, we just had our walls set up and got some big time blocks.”
While the Patriots were impressive, Kilcrease said there are still things to work on heading into the semifinals.
“We’ve still got to tackle better and block a little better,” Kilcrease said. “We’ve been playing better these last few weeks, so we just want to keep improving.”
With the win, PLAS will take on Morgan Academy next week in Selma for the right to play for a state championship.