Bulldogs home opener spoiled by Commerce
By Alvin Richardson
The Commerce Tigers visited Bill Corry Stadium fresh off a spanking by rival Jefferson the previous Friday night and got things turned around at Morgan County’s expense, winning by a score of 33-23. The Tigers led 19-10 at the half and kept the Bulldogs at bay by scoring touchdowns at the 9:13 mark of the third quarter and with 11:44 left in the game to lead 33-10 effectively wrapping up the contest. Morgan gamely hung on and scored with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter and with 1:04 remaining to close the gap but the issue had been decided by then.
Head Coach Bill Malone was impressed with the play of Commerce. “Our hats are off to Coach Savage and his players and staff. They made a vast improvement from last week to this week especially in their offensive line play.” The coach went on to critique his squad. Defensively we took some bad angles that resulted in big plays for Commerce. Offensively I was pleased that we put ourselves in good position several times on and disappointed that we didn’t take advantage of the chances we had.” He then looked toward next week’s opponent. “Washington County will be the strongest, most physical team we will play this year. They run out of an I formation and will come right at you with power plays and sweeps. It’s going to be a huge challenge and will let us know where we are and where we need to be.”
Offensive coordinator John Robbins saw some good things as his unit ran and passed for 350 total yards of offense. “Ryan Glosson had an outstanding performance and carried us. He put us in position to win the game. Phillip Stovall had another outstanding game on the offensive line and J.D. Hawkins teamed up with fellow sophomore Desmond Williams on several big plays. Williams had seven catches on the night and four of them were for over 10 yards. J.D. Hawkins had 14 completions and that’s the most we’ve had in the last couple of years.”
Defensive coordinator Clint Jenkins wasn’t particularly pleased. “We took some bad angles that resulted in missed tackles and big plays for them. We also had some unnecessary penalties in the game. Our perimeter and secondary play must improve in order to stop big plays.” He also went on to comment that the front seven played pretty well. He ended his assessment by saying, “We need to put it all together and improve our defense.”
Morgan County broke on top when quarterback J.D. Hawkins kept the ball after a nice inside fake and sprinted eighteen yards to pay dirt. The drive covered fifty yards and Clay Duvall’s PAT made it 7-0 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
Commerce answered when their quarterback raced the final twenty yards on an option keeper to complete a sixty two yard drive. A successful extra point tied the game at 7-7 with 1:14 left in the opening quarter.
Following a Morgan County punt Commerce regained possession at their forty five yard line and struck immediately with the go ahead score. A short lob pass over the line resulted in a fifty five yard touchdown and with 10:36 left in quarter number two the Tigers took a 13-7 lead that they would not lose
Morgan County missed a scoring chance in the second quarter when they marched fifty seven yards to the Commerce seven and had first and goal. From that point however, Morgan went backwards. On first down the Dogs lost three yards and followed that up with a delay penalty and an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in losses back to the thirty yard line. On third down Commerce intercepted a pass and ran it back to the forty six. On the ensuing play the Tigers ran a reverse that resulted in a fifty four yard touchdown run on which the ball carrier made it to the one yard line and fumbled into the end zone only to be recovered by a Commerce player. The two point conversion was not successful but the Tigers took a 19-7 lead with 1:14 left in the half.
Morgan started their last drive of the half at their own fifteen after a blocking infraction set them back. A completed pass from J.D. Hawkins to Desmond Williams gave them a first down and then Ryan Glosson broke a sixty yard run to the Commerce nineteen yard line to pump a little life back into the Dogs. On first down J.D. Hawkins hit Clay Duvall with a pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown but it was negated by a penalty as Hawkins was past the line of scrimmage when he released the ball. It looked like another missed scoring chance until Commerce was flagged for a personal foul as time ran out in the half. The penalty gave Morgan County one more play (on an untimed down) from the eight yard line and Clay Duvall calmly booted a twenty five yard field goal to cut into the lead. The field goal made it 19-10 at intermission.
Commerce went fifty nine yards on five plays to open the second half and slapped a wet rag on Morgan’s hopes to regain the momentum. A four yard keeper by the quarterback resulted in the touchdown and the PAT made it 26-10 with 9:13 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs responded with a possession that started at their twenty one and penetrated all the way to the Commerce twelve yard line before a fumble (following a pass reception that would have resulted in a first down) stopped the drive.
Following an exchange of punts Commerce wound up with the ball on their thirty four yard line. On first down the quarterback pitched to a trailing back who fumbled the ball and had it bounce right back in his arms. He then proceeded sixty six yards down the sideline for a score and the resulting 33-10 lead pretty much put a lid on things with 11:44 to go in the contest.
The Dogs managed two scores down the stretch. J.D. Hawkins sneaked in from one yard at the end of a fifty five yard drive to make it 33-16 and Hawkins got in again from short range with 1:04 left in the contest to make the final score 33-23.