Patriots survive again, defeat Benjamin Russell


The first batch of patriot players enter the field for warmups, prior to Benjamin Russell @ Homewood.

Henry Sklar, Sports Editor

Closing out close games in the fourth quarter seems to be a theme for the Patriots (4-1, 3-0) this season, and it showed once again in their battle with the Benjamin Russell Wildcats (3-1, 1-1) on Friday night.

Ask head coach Ben Berguson. He will tell you, too.

“We’ve been into dogfights already,” Berguson said. “We are a battle-tested team.”

Benjamin Russell came out sprinting. A quick forced three-and-out allowed the Wildcats to efficiently execute their first offensive drive of the night, which was finished off with a touchdown from wide receiver David Lawson.

On the ensuing series of possessions, Patriots quarterback Woods Ray delivered a shot over the middle, which was intercepted by a Wildcat defender. Benjamin Russell was then able to move down the field and finish off that drive with a field goal.

The Wildcats quickly realized this game would be a marathon, not a sprint.

After bringing a return out to the 33-yard line, the Patriots moved the ball to midfield. On third and long, Ray felt the pressure and scrambled out to the left hash before delivering a moonshot to wide receiver Jackson Parris who caught it over the defender for a 55-yard touchdown.

When it seemed like the Wildcats wouldn’t give in, sophomore defensive back Talton Thomas had an acrobatic interception at the 5-yard line to give Homewood the ball. On the second play, Ray once again found Parris for a 95-yard score, giving the Patriots their first lead of the night. 

The Patriots extended their lead throughout the rest of the first half, with a Whit Armistead field goal and a Mondrell Odell touchdown.

The beginning of the second half felt like déjà vu. Wildcat quarterback Gabriel Benton executed a quick, two-minute drive capped off with a touchdown. However, the Patriot offense was able to hold its lead slowly, pacing their drive to 11 minutes overall. Homewood missed a routine field goal due to a low snap, turning the ball over. 

A couple of plays into the Benjamin Russell’s drive, Benton connected with wide receiver Malcolm Simmons for a deep touchdown off of a broken coverage play.

Benjamin Russell forced a punt on the ensuing drive; however, the returner muffed the ball, fumbling it in the red zone, and the Patriots recovered. Two plays later, Ray pounded in a touchdown regaining Homewood’s lead, 31-24. Homewood, forced a three and out, yet fumbled the ball on the next possession, giving it to the Wildcats in prime position. However, the defense stood tall one final time to seal the victory.

With a win, the Patriots remain undefeated in regional play (3-0). 

Homewood hosts Pinson Valley next Friday at 7 p.m.