Massac County’s Patriot football team ground out, literally, a thrilling 34-33 win Friday night over West Frankfort for their second win of the year.
Tailback Dillon Stoner set a new school single game rushing record with a mind boggling 43 carries for 330 yards.
For half of the game, coach John Warren “coddled” a nervous, third string quarterback, sophomore Jay Benard, who was starting his first varsity game. Benard just called Stoner’s number off tackle and his big front line did the rest.
But Warren and staff told Benard to “put his big boy’s pants on and just play football” in the second half and the team responded, outscoring the Redbirds 28-20 to overcome a 13-6 halftime deficit.
Mitchell got things rolling in the third quarter with a nice punt after a “three and out” backing the Redbirds to their 25-yard line. Stoner broke through and dropped West Frankfort quarterback Noah Drone in his backfield for a 5-yard loss.
Mitchell, seeing duty at a defensive back position, then picked off a Drone slant pass and skittered 21 yards to the end zone for a Patriot touchdown. Hayes Lawson’s kick was good and things were all knotted up at 13.
On Frankfort’s next possession, Israel Cherry blew up a Redbird play and hung a huge loss on the ‘Birds. Mike Marotz then proceeded to pick off a deflected pass and the Pats were back in business at West Frankfort’s 37-yard line.
Benard threw one incomplete pass before calling Stoner’s number 3 again off tackle. Stoner rumbled 37 yards for the touchdown. Lawson, who had had issues kicking most of the night, missed the PAT for a 19-13 Massac lead.
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