The Patriots football team proved it still has the same dominance as a season ago even after losing 17 of last year’s 22 starters with a 48-24 victory over the University School Sharks as part of the Preseason Kickoff Classic.
The Patriots took the first lead of the game only 50 seconds in after a Sharks fumble was recovered by sophomore cornerback Ja’den Mcburrows and taken back to the house to give the Pats an early 7-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, as Sharks sophomore quarterback Nick Vattiato struck senior receiver Kenny Mcintosh on a drag route for a 20-yard catch and run touchdown, tying the game at seven a piece. The Patriots muffed the ensuing kickoff, giving the ball right back to the Sharks in great field position. However, good defense from the Patriots, including two tackles for loss by junior linebacker Andy Garcia, forced a field goal only giving the Sharks a three point lead.
The Patriots took control again after a three-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Tyler Jones to make the score 14-10 Patriots. Jones punched it in after a long drive in which the Patriots only threw the ball once.
After a Patriots field goal from senior kicker Jimmy Lowery, the Patriots kicked it back to Sharks now up seven. However, the lead quickly vanished after an 88-yard bomb from Vattiato to senior wideout Xavien Flowers, tying the game once again.
The Patriots received the ball at the start of third quarter, up 20-17 after a field goal from Lowery late in the second quarter. Their first drive of the second half was led by power running from senior running back Lavelton Williams. Williams refused to go down, running over defenders and taking two carries to get the Patriots into the redzone. Ball on the 1-yard line, the Patriots fail to get into the promised land three times, bringing up 4th & goal. A play-action rollout from junior quarterback Edwin Rhodes left senior tight end Beau Johnson wide open on the corner of the endzone to tack on seven more.
With just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Sharks struck back with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Vattiato to keep the game within reach at 27-24. Yet the Patriots were determined to pull away, converting for an 80-yard catch and run from sophomore wide receiver Jacolby Spells on the next play from scrimmage, extending the lead to 34-24.
A punt back to the Patriots with only 13 seconds off the clock in the fourth gave the Pats a chance to take the game out of reach. Two plays later Rhodes connected with sophomore receiver Vinson Davis III for a deep touchdown making the score 41-24 and securing the victory.
Although the Patriots had a few errors and hiccups along the way, the team got the job done defeating the sharks by 24 points in classic Patriot fashion.
After the game, head coach Patrick Surtain was critical of his team’s performance, but still optimistic. “We got a lot to correct. It was a good first game to have because we got a lot of good film to watch. The kids need to be constructive in their criticism, take it and learn from it. It was one game; it’s a long season; we’ll be fine,” he said.