By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County’s Bulldogs polished off an 8-2 regular season with their seventh consecutive victory last Friday night. Their latest win, a 33-14 bulldozing of Jackson County, gave them a clean sweep in Region 8AAA. Their latest conquest used a tried and true formula for winning – run the ball effectively on offense and stop the run on defense. Morgan piled up 298 yards on the ground and limited the Panthers to 70 rushing yards and 164 total yards on the night. Malik Chapman accounted for 175 of those yards and scored three of Morgan County’s touchdowns on runs of 58, 21, and 3 yards to lead the offense. The Bulldog defense turned in another outstanding effort and was led by Quin Williams (3 tackles for loss), Javis Benford (interception) and Jody McAllister (5 tackles). The Dogs will play Bremen in the opening round of the state playoffs.
In the Friday tilt against Jackson County the Bulldogs scored two first quarter touchdowns and led 14-0 with 3:24 left in the opening period but the Panthers roared back with 14 points of their own in the second quarter on a 60 yard drive and a screen pass that covered 40 yards. But it was all Morgan County in the second half. The Bulldogs offense scored 19 unanswered points and the defense held Jackson to just one first down as Morgan won handily.
Morgan County Head Coach Bill Malone was pleased with his team’s second half performance and said, “I was really proud of our team stepping up after halftime and taking it to Jackson County. I’m also really happy for our seniors who led us to a region championship.” As for upcoming opponent Bremen Malone noted, “This week is going to be a big challenge for us. Bremen reminds me of Oconee County but our boys have answered the call these past seven weeks and I’m betting that we’ll be ready this Friday night.”
The Bulldogs started out on fire. They took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in seven plays for an opening touchdown. Morgan’s offensive line was dominant and running backs Chapman along with Williams took full advantage. Chapman went off tackle for 25 yards and Williams added 13 more yards in two plays to key the drive. Chapman did the honors from three yards out and Morgan led 7-0 after Carlos Hernandez booted the PAT.
Jackson County managed one first down on their first possession but had to punt and the Bulldogs took over on their 31 and went to work again. This time they chewed up 69 yards in nine plays to score their second touchdown of the first quarter. That march was keyed by passes from senior quarterback Trey Patterson to Cornelius Peterson and Blake Nelson. Peterson caught an out route good for 13 yards and Nelson gathered in a quick screen for 10 more. Chapman capped the drive with a 21 yard sweep around right end for the score and a 14-0 lead.
After Jackson County tied the score in the second quarter Morgan regrouped at halftime and put the game away. On their first possession of the third quarter MCHS went on a 13 play drive but missed a 38 yard field goal. Late in the third period Morgan took over on their 42 yard line and Chapman took it from there. The senior running hit inside on a lead play and broke into the clear romping 52 yards for Morgan’s third touchdown at the 1:03 mark. Hernandez again booted the PAT and a 21-14 lead that would not be challenged.
The Morgan County defensive unit continued to stymie Jackson County’s offense and gave their offense a short field on the next possession. Starting at the Panther 40 Morgan ran three plays that netted six yards. On fourth and four Trey Patterson fired a strike to Blake Nelson on a curl route and Nelson turned it into a 29 yard gain to the Jackson County five yard line. Three plays later Patterson sneaked over from the one. The PAT was spoiled with a low snap but Morgan led 27-14 with 8:22 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs removed all doubt on their next offensive series. Starting at their 31 Morgan pounded out a first down and then faced second and 10 from the 42. Offensive coordinator John Robbins then turned to junior fullback Jason Fryzel and Fryzel didn’t disappoint. He took a handoff on a counter play, burst through the middle and sailed 58 yards to pay dirt. A two point pass play fell incomplete but the lead ballooned to 33-14 and Morgan cruised in to their eighth win in 10 games on the campaign. The Bulldogs seven game winning streak is their longest since Morgan won eight straight on their way to a region title in 2003.
Morgan will host the Bremen Blue Devils in the first round of the state playoffs this Friday night at Bill Corry Stadium. Game time is 7:30. An in-depth look at Bremen can be found in a separate article.