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Fort Dale wins Top 10 battle with Patriots

In a rematch from last year’s AISA state championship game, the No.1-ranked Fort Dale Eagles defeated the seventh-ranked Pike Liberal Arts Patriots 28-20 Friday night in Troy.

PLAS (2-1, 1-1) forced a three-and-out by the Eagle offense with a little over 1:30 remaining and looked as if it would have a chance to attempt to tie the game.

The Fort Dale (3-0, 2-0) punt was a short kick that bounced along the sideline.

Taylor Stephens attempted to scoop up the ball for the Patriots, but the ball bounced off of his hands.

Daniel Lowe fell on the ball for Fort Dale, giving the Eagles the ball back and enabling them to run out the clock.

PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said Stephens was attempting to make a big play, a play that Kilcrease was yelling for him to make.

The muffed punt was not the only missed opportunity by the Patriots.

PLAS forced a Fort Dale fumble early in the fourth quarter and took over at the Patriot 43-yard line trailing just 21-14.

Fort Dale would take advantage, scoring a touchdown on the ensuing possession.

The touchdown came when Todd Burkett replaced Hunter Armstrong at quarterback and took the ball 58 yards around the right end for a touchdown.

The extra point made it 28-14 with 8:26 remaining, and the Patriots could not rally.

Initially, it looked as if the Pike Liberal offensive line would have its way against the Fort Dale defense.

The Patriots took their first possession of the game 67 yards in 13 plays, with all 13 plays being runs between the tackles.

The drive was capped on a one-yard touchdown run by Nick McLaughlin.

However, after rushing for 67 yards on its first possession, PLAS would rush for just 102 more yards the rest of the game.

Kilcrease said adjustments were key for both teams.

The Patriot rushing attack was led by three different backs that all carried for more than 50 yards.

Fort Dale quarterback Hunter Armstrong was the beneficiary of defensive mistakes by PLAS.

Armstrong finished the game with 134 yards passing and a touchdown while going 8-15 through the air.

Luke Hutcheson was the leading receiver for FDA with 80 yards on three catches.

Armstrong also connected with Stephen Till for a seven-yard touchdown pass.

Daniel Nolan was the leading rusher for the Eagles with 17 carries for 82 yards.

In addition to the 58-yard run by Burkett, he also had key interception that set up a touchdown, and Cooper Lewis helped lead the defense with 16 tackles.

PLAS will be back in action next Friday at home against Glenwood School, while Fort Dale will take on Hooper Academy at home.