By HARRISON HAMLET
(MARTINSVILLE, Va.) – Fast starts have been few and far between for Patrick County’s football team in 2019, but a fast start on Friday proved critical in a 27-19 road win over Martinsville.
Patrick County scored the first three touchdowns of the game, including on the opening possession, then withstood a rally by Martinsville to secure the win.
Cougars head coach David Morrison said he was happy to see the opening march, driven by the legs of tailback Dae’Shawn Penn and finished with a run from quarterback Will Sprowl.
“Faster starts are something we really wanted to look at, we wanted to take the ball if we won the toss,” Morrison said. “We had a plan in mind on what we wanted to do on that first drive and we executed it pretty well. It was exactly what we wanted to see on an opening drive.”
Penn extended the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter before Sprowl threw his only pass of the night, a 34-yard dart to Jonny Crowell that gave Patrick County a 21-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining until halftime.
With Martinsville slated to receive the ball to start the third quarter, closing the first half was important for Patrick County and nearly became their undoing.
Martinsville’s offense finally got moving in the second quarter after a number of penalties and turnovers held them back early.
“These guys wanted to win and they played the last two weeks like they wanted to win the game,” Martinsville head coach Bobby Martin said. “We have to learn to be disciplined and quit hurting ourselves in these games.”
The Bulldogs punched in a four-yard run after a lengthy drive with 1:00 to play in the first half. Then, Martinsville recovered an onside kick and was almost immediately back in scoring position, threatening to cut Patrick County’s lead to just one score.
The Cougar defense held, however, and headed into the locker room with a 21-7 lead after the frantic series of events to close the first half.
“At halftime, we really just wanted to keep everybody up. They scored one time but they didn’t score the second time,” Morrison said. “Our defense understood how big that last stop was. If Martinsville scores there and come back out with the ball on Homecoming night, that is huge momentum for them and something you don’t want to face, especially against a team like Martinsville. They have athletes all over the place.”
Having spent an inordinate amount of time on the field in the second quarter, wearing them down, the Patrick County defense again buckled after halftime, surrendering a Martinsville score that left the Cougars clinging to a 21-12 lead.
Patrick County’s offense answered the bell, however, extending the lead to 27-12 with a drive that punctuated the third quarter.
Although Martinsville was able to find the end zone once more to reach their final tally, the game was seemingly secure for much of the fourth quarter thanks to Patrick County’s ability to sustain drives by running the ball.
The Cougars gained over 200 yards rushing despite the fact that Martinsville’s kickoffs were almost exclusively onside tries, giving Patrick County short fields regularly.
Morrison said that Martinsville’s athleticism was not reflected in their winless record (0-6) so far this season and he was impressed with the Bulldogs.
“We knew they were going to be a really tough opponent, just from watching them on film,” Morrison said. “They haven’t had a lot of success in the wins-losses column…but this is a tough program right here and Coach (Bobby) Martin is doing things the right way. These kids are great football players down here. They’re a much better football program than people think.”
Morrison added that it was a lesson for his young team in focusing on the task at hand rather than preconceived notions about opponents based on their record, but he added he was pleased with the result.
“You never can look at wins and losses to judge a team, if you do that you’re setting yourself up for failure,” Morrison said. “It’s huge for us to come out with this one, our first region win this year with a young team. Every win is a big win, but this win is a huge win for us going into a new region this year. It’s just a really big win for our kids…I think we’ve set ourselves up pretty well to hopefully get a bid to the postseason.”
Patrick County (3-3) will host G.W.-Danville (3-2) on Friday night looking to earn back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
“We’re coaching as hard as we can week in and week out,” Morrison said of preparing for the Eagles. “I think G.W is brutally athletic. They always have a deep bench and can hurt you in so many different ways. We have to be sound and we have a lot of work to do to be ready for them. Offensively, we have to play our game, but spread the ball out a little bit more against a team like that.”
Patrick County High School 27, Martinsville High School 19
PCHS – 7 14 6 0 – 27
MHS – 0 7 6 6 – 19
7:47 – PCHS – Will Sprowl 1 run (Martin Morse PAT good)
5:59 – PCHS – Dae’Shawn Penn 7 run (Martin Morse PAT good)
3:41 – PCHS – Jonny Crowell 34 pass from Will Sprowl (Martin Morse PAT good)
1:00 – MHS – Zion Adams 4 run (Huver Jaramillo-Mata PAT good)
7:13 – MHS – Zion Adams 16 run (PAT miss)
0:40 – PCHS – Will Sprowl 7 run (PAT blocked)
5:26 – MHS – Jahil Martin 3 pass from Rashaun Dickerson (2 point try fail)
PATRICK COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
Dae-Shawn Penn 25 for 134, TD; Carson Merriman 12 for 53; Jonny Crowell 3 for 15; Will Sprowl 6 for 11, 2TD. TOTAL: 46 for 211, 3TD.
Will Sprowl 1/1 for 34, TD.
Jonny Crowell 1 for 34, TD.
MARTINSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
Rashaun Dickerson 12 for 63, fum.; Javontae Manns 9 for 47; Zion Adams 11 for 46, 2TD, fum.; Jahil Martin 2 for 10; Troy Brandon 1 for 9; Jeremiah Law 3 for 8; Trey Wilson 1 for 3; Privan Patel 1 for -1; Delvin Roberts 2 for -4. TOTAL: 41 for 181, 2TD, 2fum.
Rashaun Dickerson 7/13 for 90, TD; Privan Patel 1/2 for 12; Troy Odell 0/1, INT. TOTAL: 8/16 for 102, TD, INT.
Javontae Manns 2 for 47; Khalil Niblett 3 for 35; Zion Adams 1 for 20; Trey Wilson 1 for 12; Troy Brandon 1 for 5, Jahil Martin 1 for 3, TD.
3 – Patrick County running back Carson Merriman (33) carries the ball while quarterback Will Sprowl (7) fakes during Friday’s 25-19 road win over Martinsville. (Enterprise Photo by Harrison Hamlet)