E.A. Sports Today

Tej-Mania comes to Donoho

Patel continues to make the most of his first chance to be the Falcons’ lead back, rushes for 133 yards, 2 TDs in region win

Thursday’s scoreboard
Donoho 35, Appalachian 12
Marengo 52, Fruitdale 0
Pickens County 73, Brilliant 0
Luverne 58, Calhoun 0
Lauderdale County 55, Lexington 21
Jackson-Olin 14, Ramsay 8
Sidney Lanier 42, Dothan 0
Gadsden City 41, Buckhorn 0

“Everybody looks to him to carry us through and to kind of march into battle with the sword drawn.” — Donoho coach Mark Sanders on RB Tej Patel

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Mark Sanders saw something from the other sideline last year that led him to think Donoho’s Tej Patel had what it took to be a headliner. When he came to Donoho this spring and saw something you really can’t “see” in a player he was convinced of it.

It’s all about heart.

Patel continued to make the most of his first chance to be the Falcons’ lead back, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns Thursday as the Falcons beat Appalachian 35-12 at Lentz Field for their first region win of the season.

Patel played some running back late in games last year, but with the senior losses the Falcons incurred prior to Sanders’ arrival from Victory Christian they needed to find a reliable ball carrier. The Falcons had several options, but the search didn’t last long.

“It was pretty easy for me and I’ll tell you exactly what it is, it’s his heart,” Sanders said. “He plays with high intensity and he wants to win. He’s hungry; he always wants to gain another yard.”

That was evident late in the fourth quarter when, even with game all but over, he saved scrambling Seth Ford from a deep loss when he got himself open in the flat, caught a screen pass and went 31 yards with it to set up his second touchdown of the night.

“I try to get a lot of guys understanding what that means – the heart and the effort and the go-get-‘em,” Sanders said. “It’s good to have guys like him that will actually show that on the field. He’s got the biggest voice and one of the biggest hearts on the team. Everybody looks to him to carry us through and to kind of march into battle with the sword drawn.”

Patel, now a senior, never expected to be the Falcons’ lead back, but he never doubted his ability to handle it and appreciates the opportunity.

He had 20 carries in the game – seven that went for 10 yards or more — and scored on runs of 4 and 3 yards. Quarterback Hall Billings also accounted for two touchdowns, running 81 yards for one and throwing a 1-yard pass to Will Nelson for another. Buddy Ray scored the Falcons’ other touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Ford.

“I didn’t really expect to be the main running back, I thought I was going to end up at wide receiver; we just needed people to step up and I stepped up,” Patel said. “I didn’t play a lot of offense until this year; the transition has been good knowing I can do something beneficial to help my team.”

The defense had its moments as well. It produced five takeaways and Reid Williamon made a fourth-down sack in the red zone to kill another threat by the Eagles. Patel and Ford had interceptions. Ray, Dalton Nelson and Jase Alderman recovered fumbles.

“We had the big takeaways in the game; for any defense that’s always a victory right there,” Sanders said. “I always try to get them to go after the ball; that’s what every defense should do.”

“I thought the defense played spectacularly,” Patel said. “We had a bunch of turnovers, we had a lot of sacks and tackles for loss. They only put up 12 points; me, personally, I think that was pretty good.”

Both teams are 2-5.

On the cover, Donoho running back Tej Patel looks for yardage in an earlier game against Coosa Christian. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Appalachian 0 6 0 6 — 12
Donoho 14 7 0 14 — 35

D – Will Nelson 1 pass from Hall Billings (Yash Patel kick), 1Q
D – Tej Patel 4 run (Yash Patel kick), 1Q
D – Hall Billings 81 run (Yash Patel kick), 10:30 2Q
A – James Dean 5 pass from Jasper Hutchens (PAT failed), 7:50 2Q
D – Buddy Ray 21 pass from Seth Ford (Yash Patel kick), 5:34 4Q
A – James Dean 78 pass from Jasper Hutchens (pass failed), 5:13 4Q
D – Tej Patel 3 run (Yash Patel kick), 0:17 4Q

You must be logged in to post a comment Login