Patriots’ Fast Start Leads to Victory

3 years ago Special to County Line Preps - Jeff Edgington 0

Tanner McLachlan ran for a 56-yard touchdown and also recovered the ensuing kickoff during the first two minutes of last Friday’s game versus Florence as No. 2 American Leadership Academy didn’t look back from a quick 10 – 0 start, going on to a 48 – 6 rout.

The Patriots seem to have the Gophers’ number right now.

After giving fourth-ranked Florence its only two losses a year ago, Friday’s game was the Patriots’ third win in as many games versus their Central Region rival.

ALA running back Tarrick Workman (33) runs free during Friday’s game.

“The first few minutes of each half really ignited us. We said it going all week at practice they (Florence) have a good team we have to be focused,” stated Patriots’ running back Tarrick Workman, who rushed 24 times for 178 yards and a score.

Tanner McLachlan had four touches for 132 yards and two scores, but what’s not in the box score is his play-making ability. One of his two catches was a jump-ball to display his athleticism. His momentum pushed him into the endzone for his second of the night.

But the story on this evening was the adjustments made after the Gophers cut the lead to 10 – 6 on a Nolan Susel based drive – which he capped from four yards out. The home faithful, albeit midway through the second quarter, were re-energized.

Florence running back Nolan Susel runs through a Patriots’ defender last Friday night.

ALA head coach Richard Edwards then got creative on his team’s final possession. Jake Hansen, who seldom gets a carry, burst one down the home sideline just three minutes prior to halftime.

The Patriots’ defense was stout all evening. Coach Verenski, in his fourth season, developed a good game plan that pressured Florence quarterback Jared Wood all evening. Hunter Moon contributed with two sacks. Jakob Redford forced a fumble and had six tackles.

Afterwards, Edwards was pleased with the defensive effort against a team that had been averaging nearly 50 points per game.

“I feel (the defense is) where it needs to be right now. This was a good test for us. We needed this type of challenge. Verenski is a good coach. They had a good size line we had to get through,” emphasized Edwards.

Out of the locker room after halftime, the Patriots struck just as quick as the first half, scoring 14 points before you could grab a burger and return to your seat. A balanced attack was critical, as quarterback Matthew Nevil connected with Kade Lunt and McLachlan for touchdowns to break open a 17 – 6 halftime advantage just three minutes into the third quarter.

The Patriots got a pair of rushing scores from Workman in the second half, one was from 10 yards out and the other a 48-yard run to conclude the scoring.

Florence (5-1, 0-1) will look to adjust after their first loss. They visit Globe next.

The Patriots (6-0, 1-0) have a quick turnaround as they host Joy Christian on Thursday.

Kickoff for both games is scheduled for 7 p.m.