By Jeff Haws
For the AJC
Mays could move the ball plenty between the end zones. But due to a lot of penalties and a little misfortune, it was those pesky points that eluded the Raiders.
Led by quarterback Myles Willis’s game-high 155 rushing yards, Marist put together long plays and long drives while stiffening just enough on defense to win 24-0 and lock down the No. 2 seed in Region 6-AAAA. It’s the first time Mays has been shut out since a 15-0 loss to Westlake on Oct. 18, 2002.
Down 16-0, Mays (7-2, 7-2 in Region 6-AAAA) had a chance to get back into the game, marching from its own 20 to have a first down on the Marist 15-yard line with just seconds left in the first half, thanks in large part to a dropped snap that punter John Blasingame ran 29 yards for a first down earlier in the drive.
Receiver Chad Alexander caught a pass to the 9 with 4 seconds left, but the Raiders couldn’t get off another play as time expired in the half.
When Mays came back out for the second half, the Raiders didn’t seem the same, going backward on the opening drive that eventually ended in a Marist safety.
Suddenly, in what had looked like it might be anybody’s game, Marist (8-1, 8-1) had made a statement, and Mays had fallen back.
“The was a big momentum swing for us right there, to keep them out of the end zone,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “I was disappointed when we fumbled in the end zone and they got it and marched down the field, but we came up with a stop. We went down and scored after that. That was pretty much it.”
While Mays was struggling to take advantage of what opportunities it had, Marist just kept running the ball up and down the field.
The Eagles only punted once – it was blocked – and were otherwise only stopped by their own turnovers. They amassed nearly 400 rushing yards on the night, getting at least 45 yards from four players, with Jason Morris contributing 80 and two scores, William Curran posting 47 and Gray King gaining 45.
It all didn’t amount to a ton of points on a penalty- and turnover-plagued night – sparked in large part by the steady rain that fell for much of the evening – but it was plenty to win this one.
“We knew the rain was going to hurt them more than us,” said Willis, referring to his team’s penchant for the running game while Mays leans on the pass far more often. “We knew we had the strength to pound the ball all night, and they didn’t. We just stuck to the game plan.”
Mays 0 0 0 0 – 0
Marist 3 13 2 6 – 24
Marist – Austin Hardin 29 FG
Marist – Jason Morris 8 run (run failed)
Marist – Myles Willis 49 run (Hardin kick)
Marist – Steven Wallace safety
Marist – Morris 2 run (run failed)