By Alvin Richardson
The Morgan County High School defensive unit stifled North Oconee’s offense all night long in leading Morgan County to a 23-13 win over their neighbor to the north last Friday night at Bill Corry Stadium. Despite having to defend a short field on four different occasions the Bulldog defenders limited North Oconee’s Titans to a meager four first downs, 109 total yards and yielded but a single touchdown and two field goals on the night.
The Dogs fired a shot over the bow on their first play from scrimmage with a little trickery. Quarterback Trey Patterson handed off to a sweeping Blake Nelson who stopped and fired a beauty of long bomb to a wide open Lamarcus Stokes for a 55 yard touchdown. Tristan Sewell added the PAT and Morgan led 7-0 with just a little over two minutes elapsed in the contest. After that body blow the Titans never fully recovered and never led.
Head Coach Bill Malone was proud of his crew on this night. The Bulldogs manhandled their new rivals from Class AAAA and got their first win in three tries over the Titans since 2012. Malone commented, “It was awesome to watch our kids celebrate after the game. It was such a different feeling from last week and I was very proud to see us bounce back.” Malone also had praise for his defensive unit and said, “It was a super effort from those guys who continually had to defend a short field. Fortunately Dalton Cole saved us three times on those three big kickoff returns. We’ll do a better job with that this week.” Malone continued, “It seemed that Quin (Williams) and M.J. (Webb) were everywhere and especially in North Oconee’s backfield.” Malone also had complimented the offensive unit and noted, “I was proud of our offense for those long sustained scoring drives. It was great to see Jordan Huff contribute not only on defense but on offense as well. After seeing the performance of our team this week I hope our fans will give us a boost on the road next week at Oconee County.
Offensively the Bulldogs were led by sophomore Jordan Huff who had a stellar night with 117 yards on 17 rushing attempts, Richard Brooks who finished with 79 yards on 20 attempts and junior quarterback Trey Patterson who contributed with seven completions good for 50 yards as Morgan totaled 347 yards of total offense, 18 first downs and controlled the clock for most of the night.
Defensively the star was Quin Williams with seven tackles, two assists and two tackles for loss. Jordan Huff also turned in a solid performance with five tackles, three assists and three tackles for loss in addition to his contributions on offense.
Following Morgan’s first touchdown the Titans came back with a long kickoff return to the Bulldog 27 and Dalton Cole made a touchdown saving tackle. The Bulldog defense fiercely stood their ground and forced a 39 yard field goal try that fell short and the Dogs maintained their 7-0 advantage.
Morgan couldn’t gain a first down on their next possession and were forced to punt. A bad snap with an intentional grounding penalty tacked on put North Oconee in prime scoring position at the Bulldog eight yard line but for the second time Morgan County’s defense refused to budge and the Titans had to settle for a 25 yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 3:37 left in the opening period.
The Bulldog offense got going on the ensuing series and drove 71 yards in 10 plays all the way to North Oconee’s three yard line before a fumble spoiled things. The Titans punched out to the 20 but M.J. Webb pounced on a fumble and the Dogs were in business again. This time there were no miscues. Richard Brooks broke off tackle for 17 yards and two plays later Brooks rammed it over for six points. A two point try by Brooks (after North Oconee was penalized) looked to be good but the officials didn’t see it that way and the Dogs took a 13-3 lead with 7:57 left in the first half.
The Titans best plays of the night were kickoff returns and they did it for a second time with a run to Morgan’s 36. Aided by a questionable pass interference call on fourth down the Titans scored their only touchdown of the night on a one yard plunge to cut the lead to 13-10 at the 4:30 mark of quarter number two.
The Dogs quickly drove 46 yards to the North Oconee 27 and attempted a 44 yard field goal as time expired that fell just a yard short and the teams went to intermission with Morgan leading 13-10.
Neither team scored on their opening possessions of the third quarter but the Bulldogs got rolling on the second series of the period. Starting at their 32 the Dogs quickly went to work. Trey Patterson hit Dalton Cole for 11 yards, Jordan Huff bounced outside for 14 more, and Richard Brooks made a Nick Chubb style run bowling over a couple of tacklers for nine more yards to the Titan 34. On second and nine from the 31 Quin Williams went wide and scored for Morgan’s third touchdown of the night and upped their lead to 20-10 with 3:09 left in the third quarter.
The Titans kept themselves in the game with another fine kickoff return to Morgan’s 15 where Dalton Cole again saved a touchdown. But as they had been all night the Bulldog defenders were up to the task. They surrendered just five yards in three plays and North Oconee had to settle for a 27 yard field goal to make it 20 – 13 with a little over two minutes left in the third period.
The Morgan County offensive dashed North Oconee’s comeback hopes with a bruising drive that covered 17 plays and took over seven minutes off the clock. At the end of it Tristan Sewell booted a 29 yard field goal right through the posts for a 10 point advantage with 6:41 left in the contest. The Bulldog defense took it from there with two consecutive three and outs to close the deal and help Morgan County secure a 23-13 win over North Oconee’s Titans.
The win gives Morgan a 1-1 record on the season and sets up a non-region clash with their other neighbor from Watkinsville. The Dogs will go on the road to Warrior Stadium to take on Oconee County, last year’s region 8AAA champs Friday night at 7:30. Oconee has moved up to Class AAAA and has a 2-0 record thus far on the season.