By Alvin Richardson
The Oconee County Warriors showed why they are ranked 8th in Class 4A football in posting a 21-0 victory over Morgan County last Friday night in Watkinsville. The Warriors used a highly effective passing game to score three first half touchdowns of 64, 38, and 8 yards and the Dogs had four turnovers that stymied several good opportunities. Oconee got their third win in as many tries on the season and in the process tied the all-time series with Morgan County at 12-12-1.
An obviously disappointed Bill Malone said of the game, “You are just not going to beat a team like Oconee County when you commit four turnovers. We couldn’t survive the storm they are known for bringing in the first ten minutes of the game but the defense performed superbly after that.” Malone added, “We had some nice drives but just couldn’t seem to get out of our own way. We are looking forward to an opportunity to change that Friday night.”
Morgan County actually outgained the Warriors 242 to 206 in total yards but Oconee made the big plays, Morgan came up empty on key possessions and that was the difference in the outcome.
The Dogs opened the contest with a promising drive that covered 50 yards to the Oconee County 30 but lost the ball on downs. Three plays later the Warriors hit a deep curl route and the receiver pivoted away from Morgan’s secondary, hit the gas and sprinted 64 yards for the game’s first score to make it 7-0 with 6:08 left in the opening period.
Lamarcus Stokes made a nice return to the 36 on the ensuing kickoff and the Bulldogs ground out a first down but were forced to punt. A low snap put punter Trent Folds in scramble mode but he was able to get it off although the kick only covered 13 yards to midfield. Oconee found 12 yards on a sweep to the 38 and then the Warrior quarterback made a beautiful throw in the left corner for a 38 yard scoring strike to up the lead to 14-0 at the 2:39 mark of the first quarter.
On their next offensive possession Morgan picked up nine yards in three plays and, already down two scores, decided to gamble and go for it on fourth down. A mishandled exchange between the center and quarterback ruined the play and the ball went over to Oconee in prime field position at the Bulldog 29 yard line.
The Warriors, who never found much running room on this night (59 yards on 32 attempts), tried three rushing plays that netted just six yards and then went back to the air on fourth and four. They were on target once again and picked up 17 yards on an inside curl route to the Morgan County six yard line. After a two yard loss the Oconee quarterback bootlegged out and found his receiver for an eight yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 10:41 left in the first half.
From that point the teams played on even terms and the Bulldogs put up a fight but could never quite get going on offense. A block in the back penalty spoiled their next drive after the Dogs had punched out two first downs. Morgan’s defense then forced a three and out. Quin Williams broke through and blocked the ensuing punt to give the Bulldogs their best field position of the night at Oconee’s 28 yard line and an opportunity to get some much needed momentum before halftime. Three plays later Morgan had advanced only two yards and Tristan Sewell came on to attempt a 43 yard field goal that fell short and neither team threatened for the remainder of the second quarter.
Morgan opened the second half with an onside kick. Oconee muffed it and the ball bounced free but no one could secure it before it went out of bounds. The Warriors got good field position at their 45 and churned out a first down but M.J. Webb pressured Oconee’s quarterback into an incompletion on second down and Quinn Williams got a sack on third down to force a punt.
On first down Richard Brooks got a nice lead block from M.J. Webb, bounced to the outside and romped 38 yards to the Oconee 37 to give the Dogs another scoring opportunity but the next four plays netted just four yards and the ball went over to the Warriors at the 33. The Warriors eked out a first down and then on second down Jordan Huff jarred the ball loose at the 46 yard line and Richard Brooks pounced on it at the Oconee County 41 to give Morgan County excellent field position.
Quin Williams bounded nine yards and Richard Brooks added 15 more on a lead play to the Warrior 19 but two plays later a fumble killed Morgan’s chance to get on the board and Oconee took over with 4:36 left in the third period. The teams traded punts and the Dogs wound up on the short end when the Warrior punter pinned them at their four yard line. Jordan Huff got Morgan out of that hole with a sweep that netted 13 yards and Oconee got two major penalties tacked on to take the Dogs nearly to midfield. From there they got another first down when Huff bounced outside for 11 yards but a fumble on the next play was recovered by Oconee at their 39 and Morgan’s scoring opportunity was snuffed out.
The Dogs had one more chance to get on the board when a short punt gave them nice field position at Oconee’s 43. On second down quarterback Trey Patterson hit Jordan Huff on a waggle screen to the Warrior 19 but on fourth down of the next series Patterson’s pass was picked off at the goal line and Morgan’s last scoring chance was gone.
Morgan County fell to 1-2 on the campaign and will go on the road once again this week to take on Putnam County’s War Eagles in Eatonton. Game time is 7:30