| By Angie Ledbetter
It took the last eight seconds of the game last Friday night to give first-year head coach Richard Russo his first win.
The Green Waves were down 14-13 to Marshall Academy with 13.3 seconds left in the game when junior J.T. Dalrymple kicked a 28-yard field goal for the lead for the first time that evening.
After five seconds ticked off for the field goal and kickoff, Marshall went to its highly successful air attack with two timeouts and eight seconds left in the game. Without missing a beat, Josh Garrott came up with the game-saving big interception on first down to end the game on the Marshall 23 yard line.
Russo said it felt "outstanding" to win because of the way that they did it.
"We got down 14-0 because of our own fault," he said. "We just fought and scrapped back. We had to overcome some adversity such as driving down to the seven and throwing an interception and driving down to the one and fumbling the ball. To come back two drives down with only 18 seconds to go and kick a 28-yard field goal is outstanding."
North Delta was down 14-7 at halftime.
The Patriots scored in the first quarter on a 16-yard run but the PAT was blocked for the 6-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Green Wave fumbled the ball and the Patriots recovered it on the 12 yard line of the Green Wave.
With 9:31 on the clock, the Patriots scored on an eight-yard pass reception and a two-point conversion for the 14-0 lead.
The Green Wave finally broke on the scoreboard with 19.3 seconds left in the first half, on a fake punt on fourth down and 25.
Senior fullback Dakota Mabry took the ball 50 yards for the touchdown. The PAT was good to cut the lead to 14-7 at the half.
With 4:18 left in the third quarter, the Patriots fumbled the ball and Devin Maples recovered it on the Patriots’ 30.
The possession ended when the Green Wave fumbled a few minutes later with the Patriots recovering on their own 20.
The fourth quarter got very interesting and exciting as the Green Wave scored early on a Dalrymple quarterback sneak.
The Green Wave drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag and had to attempt the two point conversion from 17 yards out. It failed and the Patriots maintained a one-point lead, 14-13, with 8:11 left in the game.
With the Green Wave defense doing its job, the offense was facing a fourth down and one on the 35 with 2:49 left in the game.
Dalrymple picked up a first down on the Green Wave 37 and completed a pass to Blane Joyner bringing up second down and one with the ball on the 46.
The Patriots then drew a pass interference penalty with 1:55 left in the game.
From the Patriots’ 46 yard line, the Green Waves faced another fourth and 11, converting on an 11-yard pass to Joyner.
The Patriots drew another big penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Green Wave found themselves on the Patriots’ 12 with 18:11 seconds left in the game. With an incomplete pass and no timeouts left, the Green Waves made the decision to kick the game-winning field goal.
After the game was over, head coach Russo told the team, "Now and until the day that I die, I will never forget September 1, 2006."
All of the players yelled 1,2,3, and then FAMILY!
"We made several key adjustments," Russo said. "I give all the credit in the world to our assistant coaches and the kids were telling us what they were seeing out there.
"Bad things happened to us and we responded," Russo continued. "That’s what I’ve been preaching. Every play, every quarter, do your best and sometimes that scoreboard will be on your side. We worked hard this week. First win is awesome! To kick a winning field goal, most high school teams can’t do that. I told you when I was hired, special teams are important."
J.T. Dalrymple said, "Before the field goal, we all got together as a team, drove the ball down the field, and stayed together as a team. I couldn’t let the team down. I had it in my mind that I was going to make it the whole time. I had no doubt at all. Everybody got together in the fourth quarter."
Assistant coach Adam Waldrup praised the senior leadership on the team.
"Everybody played with heart," Waldrup said. "It paid off practicing those field goals. We kick them every day. I would say that the defense was the key to winning tonight."
Assistant coach David Hardy said, "They weren’t going to quit. They could overcome any early adversity and that’s what they did. That final drive. I don’t know if I’ve been a part of a drive like that. I really think this is going to boost us in the next game, our first district game. It couldn’t have come at a better time."
The Green Wave had 255 rushing yards and 29 passing yards for a total of 284 yards. They gave up the ball three times and got four turnovers from the Patriots. Dalrymple completed three of 12 passes for 29 yards and threw one interception. He also made one PAT, and one field goal from 28 yards. He rushed for 27 yards on seven carries and had three punts for a 30-yard average.
Mabry rushed for 114 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.
Nick Douglas rushed for 65 yards on seven carries and had one reception for nine yards.
Evan West had 10 carries for 40 yards.
Devin Maples had five carries for nine yards. Blane Joyner had two receptions for 20 yards.
"Mabry’s 114 yards came when 64 of those yards were extremely tough running, just bulling his way through the defense," Russo said.
The other 50 yards was due to miscommunication on the punt play. North Delta was supposed to punt it away, but it got snapped to Mabry.
"Dakota took the ball and made something happen with it," Russo said. "That is a mark of a play maker when something goes wrong, sometimes you can make something out of nothing."
On the defense, Jon Michael Ware had 18 tackles; Mabry seven; Evan West, Garrott and Douglas, three tackles each. Garrott, Douglas and Joyner each had one interception.
The Patriots had a total offense of 167 yards. They had 3 interceptions and 1 fumble.
The Green Waves return home tonight for their first district game of the season against West Memphis at 7:30 p.m.