By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County took another positive step forward in the 2017 campaign by going to Barnesville and spearing the Lamar County Trojans with a high-powered offense and a stingy defense. The Dogs led 28-14 at the half and stretched their advantage to 41-21 early in the fourth quarter before Head Coach Bill Malone pulled the plug on his starters. Had it not been for a couple of unfortunate plays the Bulldogs would have had this one salted away by halftime.
The game wasn’t as close as the score looks. The Bulldogs amassed 532 yards of total offense with a balanced attack that finished with 283 yards passing and 249 rushing. The defense held Lamar County to 149 yards rushing and 115 through the air (264 total) with 92 of those coming on a single play. Lamar scored one touchdown on a fumble return.
There were plenty of stars in this one. Senior quarterback Trey Patterson completed 21 of 36 passes for 283 yards and four TD’s to four different receivers and Jordan Huff caught seven passes turning them into 107 yards and a TD. Donovan Nelson rushed for 89 yards, Rambo Rambus tallied 70 yards on the ground and Anthony Cooper snagged six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Carlos Hernandez was good on five PAT’s and booted two field goals (both 32 yards) and put all his kickoffs in the end zone.
Defensively the Dogs were led by Tre’mon Moore who finished the night with four tackles, an assist, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a blocked punt. He was ably assisted by Jordan Huff who had a tackle, five assists and a tackle for loss and by sophomore Cole Freeman who had a tackle and five assists for his evening’s work.
Lamar County managed a single first down on their opening possession before punting to the Morgan County 22. From there the Bulldogs marched 78 yards in just six plays for the opening score. The key plays in that drive were a pass from Patterson to Huff for 13 yards and a run from Rambus for 33 more. That play put the Bulldogs at the 12 and Patterson threw a fade route to Anthony Cooper on the next play for the touchdown. Cooper went up high and made a one-handed grab in the back corner of the end zone. Hernandez made it 7-0 on the extra point and Morgan led 7-0 with 6.22 left in the opening period.
Lamar County made it into Morgan territory on their next possession mostly due to a major penalty on the Bulldogs. They ultimately wound up punting and pinned the Dogs at the 12 yard line but it didn’t matter. Patterson found Cooper on a deep out for 16 yards to convert a third and 11 and on the next play Tre’mon Moore came through with a bruising 23 yard run, bowling over a couple of Trojan defenders along the way. Two first downs later the Dogs were knocking on the door again when Jordan Huff took a pass in the flat and jumped over a defensive back to advance to the 12 yard line. On the next snap Patterson found Huff again in the flat and the fleet receiver scored easily. Hernandez made it 14-0 with 33 seconds left in the first quarter. It looked like a rout was about to take place but the Trojans made it interesting over the next few minutes.
Pinned at their eight yard line Lamar’s quarterback faked into the line and threw a quick pass to his wingback who had gone right up the seam and he scored untouched to cut the lead to 14-7. After an exchange of punts Morgan was on offense at their 35 when a fumble was picked up by the Trojans and returned for another touchdown. In the course of five minutes Lamar had scored twice and tied the game at 14-14 with 6:08 left until halftime.
The Bulldogs needed to get the momentum back and they did it with another long drive. This one covered 80 yards, took 10 plays, and knocked nearly four minutes off the clock. Morgan churned out two first downs and were just short of mid-field when Patterson hooked up with Anthony Cooper on a hitch and go route. Cooper beat his man and hauled it in for a 45 yard gain to the nine yard line to set the Dogs up with a first and goal. Two plays later Rambo Rambus rumbled over from five yards out, Hernandez his third straight PAT and the Bulldogs were back on top 21-14 with 2:43 left in the second quarter.
Morgan County’s defense forced a quick three and out on the next series and the Trojans punted short to their own 40. The Bulldogs regained possession with 1:32 left in the half and cashed it in. Patterson threw a strike to Huff on a post route that was good for 32 yards to the Trojan six yard line. A penalty set the Bulldogs back but two plays later Patterson hit Tuke Robinson on a curl route in the end zone with just 35 seconds left on the clock. Hernandez made it 28-14 and order had been restored.
The Bulldogs tacked on a 32 yard field goal from Hernandez with 7:49 left in the third quarter to stretch their lead to 31-14 and then late in the period freshman Denver Laughlin came up with a fumble recovery at the Lamar County 36. On the next play Patterson hit his fourth touchdown throw of the night when he found Brandon Smith on a post route and Smith found the end zone. The PAT made it 38-14 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs added three more points on another 32 yard field goal from Hernandez on their next possession at the end of a short drive to push the score to 41-14 and at that point Malone pulled the plug on his starters. Lamar put together an 80 yard drive late in the game to account for the night’s final points but wound up on the short end of a 41-21 score.
Morgan County opens it’s Region 8AAA region title defense with a game at East Jackson on Friday night in Commerce. Game time is 7:30.