Our Bulldogs vs. their bulldogs
Morgan drops opener to Mary Persons Bulldogs 20-14
By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County’s Bulldogs put forth a gallant effort in their first game of the season against tradition laden Mary Persons High, but fell victim to the other Bulldogs by a final tally of 20-14.
Mary Persons put together a 75-yard drive capped by a 31-yard touchdown pass to break a 14-14 tie with 49 seconds left in the third quarter and hung on by their finger nails to squeak out the win.
Head Coach Bill Malone was not disheartened by the loss. “I was very pleased that we played with great enthusiasm and that we hung in there with a premier team tonight.” Coach Malone was also pleased with other aspects of his squad. “Our young guys responded well tonight in a first game atmosphere that could have been very intimidating. I was also pleased to see the reaction of the team after the game. They were hurt by the loss and it shows me that their heart is in the right place.”
Malone went on to say, “Let’s give Mary Persons credit; they took away our trap game and inside running lanes and made us do some things we really had not planned to do.”
Malone also began to focus on next week’s game against state power Commerce. “They are one of the top teams in the state at running the option and will provide us with a major test. We’re excited to play them because of their tradition. They have one of the best and most successful coaches in the state with Steve Savage.”
Offensive coordinator John Robbins reflected after the game, “It was frustrating that the defense and special teams gave us some chances and we didn’t take advantage of them. Credit Mary Persons for jamming up the inside and taking away what we like to do. I was still pleased with our offensive line. We had two sophomores making their first start and a couple more folks out of position because of injuries. I thought J.D. Hawkins played well and showed a nice presence in the pocket and on the field in general. Terance Harper’s athleticism gives us the flexibility to move him around from quarterback, to running back, to receiver and that’s important for us.”
Defensive coordinator Clint Jenkins also saw some good things. “We did a really good job with six takeaways plus a huge stop on that fourth down play. Desmond Williams had a big night for us. We have some areas that we need to improve on but overall I was pleased with the effort we showed in a hard fought game.
Mary Persons gained their first possession at Morgan’s 41-yard line after our Dog’s stumbled on their first series with two dropped snaps and a short punt. From that point, Person’s found pay dirt with a short drive that ended with a touchdown pass at the 7:23 mark of quarter one. The PAT made it 7-0.
Following another ineffective set of downs for Morgan County, Mary Persons re-gained possession on their 38 and began pounding down the field once more. With all the early momentum going their way the other Bulldogs made a critical error. Desmond Williams intercepted an errant, hurried pass in the flat and had nothing but green grass in front of him as he scored standing up with 2:51 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was no good but the complexion of the game changed into a true dog fight as a result.
Mary Persons went back out front 14-6 following a 67-yard drive resulting in a touchdown at the 10:51 mark of the second quarter. A relentless rushing attack played the key role in that drive.
Morgan’s offense was still finding the going tough against Mary Persons' defense and Persons had another drive going at mid-field. On another key play of the game, their Bulldogs decided to go for it on fourth and one. Morgan County’s defense stuffed the ensuing try and took over at the Mary Persons 49-yard line.
From that point J.D. Hawkins found Terance Harper for 26 yards on a great throw and catch to the 22. A short time later Hawkins found Dominique Hall on fourth and eight on a middle screen and Hall picked his way to the one yard line. Ryan Glosson took it over with 2:16 left in the half to make it 14-12. On the two point try, Hawkins found Hall in the flat for the tying points.
Mary Persons fumbled the ensuing kickoff but Morgan could not score and left the score tied 14-14 at the half.
Morgan missed a big chance when Mary Persons fumbled the second half kick off. Our Bulldogs gained possession at the 20-yard line and drove to the seven before a holding penalty pushed them back to the 17-yard line with goal to go. Morgan got it down to the eight from there and went for a go ahead field goal that was blocked.
Mary Persons took over and nearly shot themselves in the foot again. On third and ten, another pass went awry and Williams picked it off and scored. The joy was short lived as a penalty negated the return. Morgan took possession on the 28 but didnot advance past the 25 before they lost the ball on downs.
From there Mary Persons went on a 75 yard drive that proved to be the winning points and made it 20-14.
Morgan County made a couple of breaks for themselves down the stretch to give them hope. A fumble recovery and return gave them possession inside Mary Person’s territory but the Dogs had to eventually punt it away. With 2:56 left in the game Harper picked off a pass and returned it to the Mary Person’s 21-yard line and Morgan had one last chance.
Following an incomplete pass, a motion penalty and a play that failed to gain, Hawkins scrambled for eight yards to leave the Dogs with a fourth and eight. Hawkins attempted a pass over the middle to keep the drive alive but it was broken up with 1:36 left to play. Mary Persons ran out the clock from there to post the win.
Morgan County hosts Commerce in home opener at Bill Corry Stadium / Legion Field at 7:30 Friday night.