ALA Scores Early and Often in Rout

3 years ago Andrew Luberda 0

The defending state champion American Leadership Academy football team completed the gridiron equivalent of hitting for the cycle in baseball, scoring in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – in its 51 – 7 rout of visiting Joy Christian last Thursday night,

The No. 2-ranked Patriots accomplished the scoring trifecta before the end of the first quarter, making the rare feat even more impressive.

“When all three phases work together it takes pressure off the offense, and we’re more comfortable with a lead in the game,” Patriots’ two-way lineman McKay Moon told after the game.

It took all of the opening kickoff, two plays from scrimmage, and 22 seconds for ALA to get “comfortable.”

Following his 41-yard return of the opening kickoff, Bujon Boyd was on the receiving end of senior quarterback Matthew Nevill’s 54-yard touchdown pass. After the first of junior Talen Rider’s seven PAT in the game, the Patriots led the outmanned Eagles, 7 – 0.

Just more than 40 seconds later the score was 9 – 0, the result of Joy Christian’s punt snap out of the endzone for a safety.

Nevill threw his second touchdown pass of the opening quarter, a 16-yarder to sophomore receiver Carter Taylor, which extended the lead to 16 – 0 with less than four minutes gone by.

The Patriots signal-caller finished 7-of-11 for 123 yards and three touchdowns, all coming in the first half.

“Especially in the first quarter, we wanted to work on throwing the ball a little bit,” ALA offensive coordinator Max Hall said. “Let’s get Matt comfortable in the pocket. I think we accomplished what we wanted to.”

Senior running back Tarrik Workman’s 33-yard run setup a first-and-goal, but on the next play Nevill made his only mistake in an otherwise near-perfect performance, throwing an interception after miscommunication between he and Boyd.

It was the Pats’ only possession during the first half that didn’t result in points.

Senior receiver Tanner McLachlan closed out the first-quarter scoring with a 40-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Workman, who ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries – an average of 25 yards per – gained 58 yards on back-to-back carries, which included a one-yard touchdown.

A 24-yard pick-six by senior defensive back Jake Vurpillat and a 20-yard touchdown reception by McLachlan ended the one-sided first half with ALA leading Joy Christian, 44 – 0.

The Pats’ defense dominated the Eagles, totaling six sacks in the game, in addition to 14 tackles-for-loss, led by senior Jakob Redford, who had a team-high three TFL.

Tanner McLachlan (7) and Jakob Redford (40) pressure Joy Christian quarterback Mason Rhynard (13).

“Our special teams and defense have been amazing,” Hall said. “It makes a lot easier as a play-caller on offense when you can trust your defense to go out and make stops.”

Workman’s second touchdown rush of the game accounted for the only scoring in the third quarter.

Joy Christian, which dressed only 16 players, avoided the shutout, scoring on a short run midway through the final quarter.

The Patriots will enjoy their bye week before hosting Coolidge on Senior Night then visiting Safford in the regular-season finale.

“Our goal (Thursday night) was to work on fundamentals and get prepared for the playoffs,” said Moon, who had two of his team’s six sacks. “I thought we did a good job, but there are some things we can fix. We have a bye week so we can work on that.”

The Bears and Bulldogs have five-combined wins, but don’t expect the defending champs to overlook their final two regular-season opponents.

With a win against Coolidge, the Patriots would clinch the 3A Central Region Championship.

“We’re not going to take Coolidge and Safford lightly,” Hall said. “The plan is to come out and execute. The other goals are to stay healthy going into the playoffs, get the reps that we need, dominate those two games, and keep building momentum toward the playoffs.”