The Independence Patriots Football team dropped a physical game to conference foe Ardrey Kell 23-21 last Friday.  After averaging 45 points a game in the first five contests, Indy’s offense had trouble finding any kind of rhythm against the tough Knight defensive front. 

Quarterback Evan Guest hit 20 of 49 passes, throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns.  It’s the 65-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Dequan Barnes in the fourth quarter that was taken off the board, however, that gave the Patriots their first loss of the season.  After Barnes crossed the goal line the officials huddled at midfield and then dropped a flag for an “illegal shift” penalty on Independence.  It was the first and only illegal shift penalty called against either team the entire game. 

Obviously many Patriot players, coaches , and fans had sour feelings after the loss.  Head Coach Bill Geiler may have said the most poignant remarks to move his team forward after the dismaying setback.

“If we score more than 21 points, we don’t have to worry about the officiating.”

 Ardrey Kell’s running back Quay Gilmore was almost unstoppable in the contest, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Patriots will need to improve their special teams unit in order to compete in the competitive Southwestern 4A Conference.  Their punt team gave up a safety on a blocked punt, and had a punt returned for a touchdown.  Getting their offense back  in a rhythm and staying on the field will be the best remedy for this team right now, and will eliminate the special team’s woes altogether. 

Austin Duke was in his usual form on Friday.  He caught ten passes for over a hundred yards.  His two touchdowns puts him at 13 scores for the season.

Defensive end Brandon Jackson recorded three sacks, and T’shun Byers had six tackles to help shut down the Knights in the fourth quarter.  It wasn’t enough, though, as Ardrey Kell held on for the win.

Many young players might hang their heads after suffering a bitter defeat, especially when some questionable officiating calls seem  to have cost them the game.  Hopefully the Indy players know that an injustice happening to you can become a small thing if your response to it is a noble one.

We’ll see how this Patriot team responds on Friday night at Providence.