Blue Devils host Strider for Friday Homecoming
The Tunica Academy varsity is showing versatility on offense that should stand them in good stead as the 2010 season progresses.
The Blue Devils, now 1-0 in district play and 1-2 overall, put up big numbers in the passing game at Marshall, despite a disappointing 30-21 loss.
Quarterback Brandon Holmes went 14 of 24 passing, for 261 yards, a pair of TDs and a conversion pass.
Offense for the Blue Devils totaled 350 yards on the night, despite the loss to the Patriots, who are ranked near the top in AA.
“We’re finding a way to score,” Head Coach Jimmy Hicks said early this week.
Against North Delta, TA racked up 330 total yards on offense, with 188 of those on passes. At Lee-Marianna, the Blue Devils’ running game starred, posting over 500 yards on the ground.
The Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead last Friday, after Freeman Gray tackled a Patriot rusher, causing a fumble. Tyler Billingsley tipped the ball into the arms of Stephen Gray, who took it into the end zone. Zack McCormick’s PAT was good to put the Devils up 7-0.
Marshall came back and scored twice before the half to go into the locker room with a 13-7 lead.
“We weren’t physical in the first half,” Hicks said, “but we never gave up.”
Marshall took a 20-7 lead after the half and then kicked a long field goal to bring the score to 23-7. On TA’s next possession, Holmes found Austin Hagstrom for 37 yards and a TD to put TA in striking position early in the fourth quarter.
With the momentum seemingly swinging toward the Blue Devils, the Patriots threw in a fake punt for a big gain and ultimately, a touchdown, to go up 30-13. But the Blue Devils couldn’t be counted out. Holmes blazed a pass to Freeman Gray for an 85-yard TD play. Gray then added two points to put the score at 30-21.
With forty seconds left, TA was threatening from the Marshall 7, but an interception brought the game to a close.
“It was good to be in the hunt at the end of the game,” Hicks said. “By playing these AA teams, we’re getting some valuable experience playing some really good teams.
“I think it’s going to help us down the road.”
Holmes threw to Billingsley three times for 62 yards; Caleb McCoy had three receptions for 22 yards, while Hagstrom snagged three for 49 yards and Stephen Gray caught one pass for 15 yards.
Freeman Gray racked up impressive stats as well, rushing 19 times for 57 yards and catching three passes for 113 yards and one TD. Gray also caught a conversion pass and had a 67-yard TD run called back on a penalty. He averaged 40 yards punting for the Blue Devils.
Defensive leaders included: Blake Perry, 11 tackles; Ali Obad, nine tackles; Jake Graves and Camillo Arellano, seven tackles each; Stephen Gray, Chris Manues and Holmes, five tackles each; and Hagstrom, four tackles. Freeman Gray ended the night with a team-leading 12 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked extra point kick. Stephen Gray also recovered a fumble for a 25-yard score, and McCoy had an interception.
Strider Academy travels to Sartin Field this week for Tunica Academy’s homecoming. The Blue Devils are also anticipating a district match-up with Marvell Academy, 3-0 prior to this week’s games, at home on September 24.