By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County’s Bulldogs brought home the Region 8AAA championship a week earlier than anticipated last Friday night. Morgan’s 38-13 pummeling of Franklin County’s Lions looked to be a win that would give them an opportunity to play for the coveted title in the regular season finale against Jackson County – but the Panthers were upset by East Jackson 21-14 and thus Morgan County clinched their 10th region title in school history and the first since 2003.
In posting their sixth straight win the Bulldogs used a familiar formula – a punishing ground game, a relentless defense and a solid kicking game. The offense rolled up 437 yards of offense with 392 of those coming on the ground, the defense limited Franklin County’s high-powered option attack to their lowest point total of the season and kicker Tristan Sewell booted a field goal and all five of his PAT attempts. The only thing that dampened Morgan County’s mood on this night was the loss of senior running back and linebacker Richard Brooks. Brooks suffered what looks to be a season-ending knee injury just 33 seconds before halftime on a play where he alertly picked up a fumbled snap and made a significant gain to keep a scoring drive alive.
Head Coach Bill Malone was ecstatic with the win along with the region title but of course dismayed at the loss of one of his team leaders and said, “I’m very happy for our guys. We challenged them to win the next seven games just before the Putnam County game and right now we’ve got six of those and we want to accomplish our goal of ripping off seven wins in a row.” Of the Brooks injury Malone noted, “Richard Brooks is going to be missed. He’s a hard-nosed runner but more importantly a fantastic teammate. He has an unbelievably positive attitude all the time. Our guys will miss him in the huddle.”
Leading the Morgan County offense was the line made up of M.J. Webb, Joel Alcarez, Keandre Williams, Kenneth Young, Anderson Wells and Casey Cooper along with fullback Jason Fryzell. That group opened gaping holes all night and the Bulldog running backs took full advantage. Malik Chapman ran 178 yards, Jordan Huff piled up 150 yards and Richard Brooks added 59 more before his injury late in the half.
Defensively the Bulldogs surrendered just 157 total yards (59 on one play) and were led by a host of players including Jordan Huff, Jody McAllister, Javis Benford, Tre Davis, Keandre Williams, Quin Williams and M.J. Webb. The Lions finished with 129 yards on the ground and 28 yards passing. Morgan’s defense is one of the best in Class AAA in points allowed on the season.
Morgan broke on top in the first quarter. The Bulldog defense forced a three and out and on their opening drive marched 50 yards to the Franklin County 16 before a penalty forced a 33 yard field goal attempt. Tristan Sewell was true on the kick and Morgan County led 3-0. The Lions took their only lead of the game on the ensuing possession when their quarterback kept on the option and went 59 yards to make it 7-3 with 4:22 left in the opening period. That was Franklin’s lone highlight of the night. From that point Morgan scored 28 unanswered points to take a 17-7 lead at the half and a commanding 31-7 lead at the end of three quarters before the teams traded scores in the final period.
Morgan’s first touchdown came after the Bulldog defense forced Franklin to punt from their end zone. The kick reached the Lion’s 37 and from there it took only four plays for Morgan County to score. On second and 13 from the Franklin County 28 Jordan Huff took a handoff, bounced outside and made a beautiful twisting run to score with 8:55 left in the second quarter to give Morgan a 10-3 lead that they would not relinquish.
After the teams traded possessions Morgan took over with 5:30 left in the half and put together a classic 72 yard, 15 play drive to score with just 20 seconds left in the half and take a 17-7 lead. The Morgan County offensive line took control and Malik Chapman, Richard Brooks and Jordan Huff just kept ripping off first downs. Chapman finished off the march with a two yard plunge just seconds before halftime and Morgan County took a 17-7 lead to the dressing room.
The Bulldogs put this one away early in the third quarter with two quick scores. Franklin tried an onside kick but Morgan recovered it at mid-field. After a first down run by Chapman to the 35 the Dogs struck through the air. Quarterback Trey Patterson fired a dart to senior wide receiver Blake Nelson who ran a post route, snagged the perfectly thrown pass and scooted to the end zone for a 24-7 lead. Morgan County then kicked off, the Lions fumbled and Brandon Smith pounced on it at the Franklin County 47. Morgan then gave the Lions another dose of hard-nosed football with a nine play drive for six more points. With Jordan Huff and Malik Chapman alternating every couple of plays Morgan drove to the 28. Dalton Cole made a circus catch for 10 more yards and three plays later Chapman rolled over from five yards out to make it 31-7 and the hay was in the barn. Morgan’s final tally of the night came in the fourth quarter on a 42 yard drive highlighted by Jordan Huff’s 25 yard burst to the end zone with 2:55 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs close out their regular season schedule Friday night at home against the Jackson County Panthers. Although Morgan has wrapped up the number one seed the game is important to maintain the momentum that has been building for the past six weeks. Game time is 7:30 at Bill Corry Stadium.
Morgan County Defensive Leaders vs Franklin County
Name Tackles Assists TFL Other
Jordan Huff 7 3 1
Jody McAllister 6 4
Javis Benford 4 7 1
Tre Davis 4 3 1 RF
Keandre Williams 6 3
Quin Williams 5 2 1 PR
M.J. Webb 3 5 1
Lamarcus Stokes 3 0 1 2 PBU’s
Jacarius Robinson 0 6 PBU
TFL = Tackle for loss / RF = Recovered fumble / PR = QB pressure / PBU = Pass broken up
Morgan County Offensive Leaders vs Franklin County
Rushing Yards Attempts Avg. TD’s
Malik Chapman 178 28 6.4 2
Jordan Huff 150 18 8.3 2
Richard Brooks 59 8 7.4
Passing Yards Comp. / Att. TD’s
Trey Patterson 45 2 / 6 1
Receiving Yards Receptions TD’s
Blake Nelson 36 1 1
Dalton Cole 9 1
Morgan County vs Franklin Score by Quarters
Morgan Co. 3 14 14 7 38
Franklin Co. 7 0 0 6 13
Morgan County Team Stats
Rushing Passing 1st Downs Total Yards
392 45 22 437
Franklin County Team Stats
Rushing Passing 1st Downs Total Yards
129 28 6 157
Last Week’s Scores of Interest
Greene Co. 35 Hancock Central 18
St. Pius 42 North Oconee 7
Oconee Co. 41 Madison Co. 8
Banks Co. 14 Putnam Co. 0
Lamar Co. 14 Heard Co. 11
East Jackson 21 Jackson Co. 14
Monroe 28 Hart Co. 0
Morgan County / Jackson County Football Preview
By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County’s upcoming game against Jackson County was predicted to be for the Region 8AAA title but the Panthers were upset by rival East Jackson 21-14 last Friday night. Jackson County was coming off the program’s first win over Hart County (0-13 previously vs Hart) and had put themselves squarely in the hunt with that victory. Their region title hopes were derailed with the loss to East Jackson but they still have plenty to play for. A win over Morgan and a loss by Franklin County Friday night would give them second place in the region and an opportunity to host a home playoff game for the first time in school history.
The all-time series between Morgan and Jackson County stands at 6-2 in favor of the Bulldogs. The Panthers are 2-2 in region play and 3-6 overall in 2016. Their wins have come over Banks County (21-16), Monroe Area (41-21), and Hart County (18-14). They have lost to Madison County (42-12), Lumpkin County (26-13), West Hall (42-0), East Hall (38-22), Franklin County (21-14) and East Jackson (21-14).
Morgan has won the last two game in the series. In 2014 the Dogs came out on top 45-42 and last year they bested the Panthers 13-7. Jackson County last beat Morgan County in 2013 when they won a thriller 38-35.
Historically Jackson County has struggled. They are 105-266-4 since the program began in 1980 and they have posted only eight seasons in which the team broke even or had a winning record. They have made the playoffs just twice (2012 and 2013). The Panthers are coached by Brandon Worley who is in his second season at the school. He has posted a record of 7-12 over that time.
Game time is 7:30 at Bill Corry Stadium.