So Close • By Nick Nunn
The 2012 MCHS varsity football season came to a close last Friday night after a 9-13 loss against the North Hall Trojans in the second round of playoffs.
The loss ends Morgan County’s season with a 9-3 winning record overall.
Morgan County’s first drive ended gained no total yards, and North Hall was able to begin on the 50-yard line after a 30-yard punt by Tristan Yontz.
The Bulldogs recovered a fumble by North Hall on their 25-yard line, but Morgan County was held in place again, forcing a punt on the fourth play of the possession.
The Trojans scored on 55-yard punt return, giving North Hall the first lead of the game 7-0.
The Bulldogs finally accrued positive yardage on the third drive of the game, advancing to the 50-yard line, but Trent Hawk threw an interception on a third-and-15 situation.
North Hall scored on their next drive but missed the extra point, giving them their final points of the night while still in the first quarter.
Morgan County finally made it to the endzone in the second quarter. Marquis Benton scored on a three-yard carry, but Yontz received a bad snap, which eliminated his chances of making the extra point.
The Bulldogs’ defense began to exert control over the Trojans in the second quarter, allowing them only five yards on their next drive.
Morgan County fumbled again on their next drive, but North Hall wasn’t able to capitalize on the mistake.
On the final drive of the first half, the Bulldogs advanced all the way from their 11-yard line to the Trojans’ 33-yard line, which proved to be in field goal range for Campbell Harrison, who was able to make the 50-yard attempt as the buzzer sounded.
Coming into the second half, the Bulldogs were still trailing 9-13.
During the second half, Morgan County gained only 67-yards and made it into North Hall’s territory only once, making it to their 47-yard line in their penultimate drive.
Part of the Bulldog’s lack of success in the second half was due to bad field position, which plagued them the entire night.
Twice during the second half, the Trojans advanced beyond Morgan County’s 10-yard line, only to turn the ball over on downs.
Although the defense’s ability to stop North Hall twice in such close proximity to the endzone was impressive, Morgan County had to begin two drives in the second half in the red zone, one on the 3-yard line and the other 7-yard line.
“That’s what happens when your defense plays as well as ours does to keep a team out of the endzone,” said Malone. “That’s excellent. At the same time, it can lead to long fields that you have to drive.”
However, the long drives that can arise as a result of having a defense that can keep the other team out of the endzone is a problem that Coach Malone doesn’t mind having.
“I’d rather our offense have to go ninety-nine yards to score than I had our offense score two times,” said Malone.
In addition to the goal line stands created by the defense, the wind was a big factor in determining Morgan County’s field location.
“We didn’t have the wind’s advantage the way we needed it,” said Malone. “It’s a tribute to our defese that we were able to, in that first quarter [when North Hall had the wind to their back], keep that bleeding to only thirteen points.”
“More so than the field being a disadvantage, it was that wind.”
Neither team scored in the second half of the game, and Morgan County’s last possession ended deep in their territory on a turnover on downs; the final score was 9-13.
Despite the loss, Coach Malone felt that the team played to the best of its abilities.
“It was a good game plan executed well by our kids.”
“I didn’t think that it would play out the way it did because I thought we were poised to stop them, poised to make them punt into that wind, and that we were going to get points. So, when we didn’t get points, I was more than a little bit concerned. I guess that’s when the level of concern began to rise in my gut.”
“I certainly felt like we were going to do what we did defensively. We had done a real good job of playing our assignments and knock the stuffing out of them. Offensively, I thought we would score.”
Now that the Bulldogs’ season has come to an end, the last celebration, the Football Banquet, is the last remaining event on the schedule. The banquet will take place next Monday at 6 p.m. at the MCHS cafeteria.
Printed in the November 29, 2012 edition.