By Alvin Richardson
(Author’s note: I mistakenly identified Morgan County kicker Andrew Bishop as Andrew Couch in last week’s article and wanted to correct that mistake. Sorry Andrew.)
The Jefferson Dragons came to town this past Friday night and showed why they are ranked number four in the state.
They put a slick and diverse offense on the field led by Division I quarterback recruit Evan Shirreffs, running back Sammy Williams, and a host of fine skill players as they defeated Morgan County 51-16.
Early mistakes by the Bulldogs helped the Dragons get off to a quick start and the Dogs couldn’t afford that luxury against the powerful Jefferson squad. That said, the final score didn’t quite do Morgan County’s effort justice.
The MCHS offense moved the football most of the night and the defense hung tough against what is perhaps the most prolific offense in Class AAA.
Jefferson scored on a forty one yard pass, had another TD set up by a forty yard pass to the Bulldog one, completed two draw plays that covered twenty and twenty six yards for touchdowns, and topped it off with a perfectly executed pass into the end zone as time expired in the first half. Head Coach Bill Malone had this to say about his team.
“I’ve never been in a locker room after such a lop-sided defeat and felt so much positive energy. Our kids really fought hard and I believe we turned a corner in regards to believing that we can become a really good team. I was proud of Trey and Malik (Chapman) for their great attitude and hustle during the game. I also thought that John Cox (filling in for an injured Seth Stapleton) did an admirable job versus really good competition. Brantley Frost was very cool under a lot of pressure.”
Coaches John Robbins and Allen Crowley also had good things to say about their young Bulldogs. Robbins noted, “I was happy with the way our young men competed against a very skilled and smart defensive unit. There is no doubt that we missed some big opportunities but our effort from one end of the formation to the other was as high as it’s been all season. Crowley also had good things to say about his youthful defenders and noted, “We had some kids who grew up tonight.
They didn’t hang their heads when things weren’t going our way, they listened to what we wanted them to do and they competed at a high level throughout the game.”
Every time the Dragons scored Morgan County came right back at them but a safety and key penalties that negated big gains stunted their early efforts. Jefferson opened the game with a forty yard pass play on which the Dragon receiver pushed off a Bulldog defender at the last second and made a fine catch. They then drove to Morgan’s three yard line where they went razzle dazzle and wound coughing up a fumble that Maclane Zant pounced on at the eleven.
The Dogs then made a critical error. On the first play from scrimmage a bad snap resulted in a safety and then the Dogs had a free kick that the Dragons returned to the Morgan County forty five.
On third and six from the forty one Shirreffs hit a wide receiver with a perfect strike for six points. The PAT made it 9-0 and the Dogs had dug an early hole. On Morgan’s next series they had plays of ten and seventeen yards called back on holding penalties and added to their misery with an unsportsmanlike foul that resulted in a punt from deep in their territory.
Jefferson again set up shop at the Bulldog forty one and on the first play completed a bootleg pass to the one yard line and scored two plays later to lead 16-0 with 4:33 left in the first quarter. The Dogs found their rhythm on the next series as they fought back.
They put together a beautiful nine play, sixty nine yard drive that resulted in their first score of the night. On that march senior quarterback Brantley Frost found Jailyn Ingram for twenty nine yards and hit Trey Chapman for a gain of sixteen more.
After a penalty and a six yard loss on a sweep the Dogs found themselves in a third and twenty three from the Jefferson thirty four. Frost scrambled and found Quincey Jones in the end zone for a touchdown and Morgan was on the board. Andrew Bishop’s PAT made it 16-7 with forty four seconds left in the first quarter. Jefferson responded with a sixty five yard drive to make it 23-7 but the Dogs just kept on hammering away.
They put together another nice drive by marching from their twenty four to the Dragon three. They got there with a couple of key plays. Frost found Jailyn Ingram for thirty six big yards on a post pattern and a screen pass to Jesse Brooks that covered fourteen more. From the Jefferson twenty two a quick screen to Quincey Jones netted eight yards and Sam Couch swept for six more to the eight.
Trey Chapman found a little room and added five more on another wide run to the Dragon three but things went sour from there. Jefferson’s defense blew up a sweep play that lost twelve yards and Morgan had to settle for a thirty two yard field goal from Andrew Bishop when they sorely needed six points.
The score was 23-10 with 3:29 left in the half and Morgan was still in the game. The final three and a half minutes of the second quarter proved to be the undoing for Morgan. Jefferson made a nice kickoff return and scored on a twenty six yard draw play with 2:19 left and then forced a three and out on Morgan County’s next series.
They got the ball back with 1:15 remaining in the half and advanced to the Bulldog thirty one with six ticks left in the half. On the final play Shirreffs and his receiver hooked up on a beautiful touchdown strike as time expired. That was the death blow for the Bulldogs as the Dragons took a 37-10 lead into intermission. Jefferson scored twice in the second half and Morgan County added one more touchdown on a sixty nine yard drive highlighted by a Frost to Ingram reception that covered forty seven yards.
From the Jefferson nineteen Frost hit Quincey Jones on a well-executed fade route for six points in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Defensively the Bulldogs were led by Malik Chapman, Collin Efird, Case Segrest, and Maclane Zant. Chapman had six tackles, three assists and two pass break ups, Efird came up with four tackles and seven assists, Segrest had two tackles, seven assists, and a quarterback hit, and Zant contributed three tackles, one assist, a had a fumble recovery.
On the offensive side of the ball Morgan County did most of their damage through the air as Brantley Frost connected on twelve of twenty five passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving corps was led by Jailyn Ingrams’s four catches that were good for 114 yards. Quincey Jones also had an outstanding night with four receptions for sixty seven yards.
Trey Chapman hauled in two balls for seventeen yards and Jesse Brooks had one catch for fourteen. Morgan County will travel to Watkinsville next week to take on the undefeated Oconee County Warriors in a key Region 8-AAA contest. This is a team on the rise and one that is certainly worth watching. Make the trip to Oconee County High School next Friday night – you won’t regret it.
Region 8AAA Report Standings Team Region Record Overall Record Last Week Jefferson 3-0 6-0 Def. Morgan 51-16 Hart County 2-0 6-0 Def. East Jackson 48-7 Oconee County 2-0 6-0 DNP Morgan County 1-1 3-3 ` Lost to Jefferson 51-16 Elbert County 1-2 4-3 Def. Jackson Co. 42-13 Jackson County 0-3 1-6 Lost to Elbert Co. 42-13 East Jackson 0-3 1-6 Lost to Hart Co. 48-7 This Week’s Games Morgan County at Oconee County East Jackson at Jefferson Jackson County at Hart County Elbert County – Off