By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County put forth a gritty effort against an Oconee County team that was loaded with weapons but could never solve the Warrior defense and fell 20-0 last Friday night in Watkinsville. Defensively the Bulldogs bottled up a highly touted Warrior passing game yielding just 77 yards and eight completions out of 22 attempts for the highly recruited Max Johnson.
Oconee made most of their hay on the ground where they rushed for 200 yards and scored on runs of 32 and 24 yards to take a 14-0 lead with 6:37 left in the second period. They added six more points (the PAT was no good after a high snap) when they blocked a punt deep in Morgan’s territory and ran it in with just 1:05 left in the half to take a 20-0 lead at intermission. Over the final two quarters Morgan’s defense turned rabid and pitched a shutout to at least give the Dogs a fighting chance but the Warrior defense was simply too good on this night.
Defensive coordinator Brett Bell was pleased with his unit’s effort and said, “I was really proud of the competitive spirit and grit that our players displayed throughout the game. It would have been easy for them to quit once we got down but that’s just not their mentality. I think we grew up a lot tonight.”
Bell went on to single out a few of his guys who played particularly well in the contest and noted, “Our entire defensive line did an excellent job all night. Jit (Jitavius) Peters, David Williams, Chris Walls and Donovan Caswell did everything we asked them to do. The linebackers reaped the rewards of the defensive line play by making tackles. Cole Freeman (14 tackles), D.J. Jones (10 tackles) and Noah Brown (5 tackles) all had great outings. In the secondary Keirreon Farley wreaked havoc with his blitzing off the edge and Denver Laughlin, Kevin Pearson and Seth Robertson each had an interception (though Robertson’s was negated by penalty) and Zan Mohone provided solid coverage on third down passing situations from the nickel position.”
Morgan lost 10 yards on their opening possession and had to punt from the 14. Oconee got good field position at the Bulldog 40 and wasted no time scoring. On third and two from the 32 they popped a dive up the middle for a touchdown, kicked the PAT and led 7-0 with 9:55 left in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs couldn’t move on their second possession and after a punt the Warriors regained possession at the Oconee 37. They drove to Morgan’s 25 but Denver Laughlin pounced on a fumble there to halt the drive.
The Dogs finally got a little something going on their next series and drove to midfield but had to punt and after a three and out Oconee punted to end the first quarter.
The Dogs picked up a first down on the ensuing possession but couldn’t sustain it and Trent Folds (who had a stellar game punting) booted one to the Warrior 39. Morgan’s defense stopped Oconee cold again but the Warrior punter drilled a beauty that rolled dead at the Bulldog two. Four plays later Folds got the Dogs out of a hole with a 53 yard punt but Oconee got their offense rolling this time. They got loose on a dive play that went to the Morgan County 21 but then stalled and wound up with a third and 13 from the 24. From there the Warriors came up with a little trickery and executed an inside reverse that was good for their second score of the night. The PAT made it 14-0 with 6:37 left in the half.
The Bulldogs punted again after a three and out and Oconee County went to work at their 25 after Folds hit another nice punt that covered 46 yards. On first down they tried a corner route that Seth Robertson picked off and returned deep into Oconee territory for what looked like a prime opportunity for the Bulldogs to climb back within a touchdown and get momentum on their side. But the refs didn’t see it that way and a pass interference call ruined the opportunity.
That turned out to be a big call.
It looked like Oconee would take that 14-0 lead into halftime but the Warriors came up with a blocked punt late in the second period and ran it in from short range to take a 20-0 advantage with 1:05 left before intermission.
The second half was scoreless as both defenses snuffed out any opportunities to put points on the board. One of the few openings came after the Bulldogs fumbled at their 16 late in the third period to give Oconee a prime scoring chance but the Bulldog defense would not budge. The Warriors gained five yards on three plays and had to settle for a 28 yard field goal attempt. A botched hold resulted in the holder heaving a pass into the end zone which Kevin Pearson promptly picked off and got loose for 80 yards to the Oconee 20 yard line – but there were flags all over the field (three in total). One was called on Morgan for having a coach on the field during the runback, one was for a late hit on Oconee County at the end of the play and it was never quite clear what the third one was all about. When the zebras figured it all out Morgan still had possession at the Warrior 23 with their best opportunity to score. But it wasn’t Morgan County’s night on offense. They gained two yards in three plays and an incomplete pass on fourth down gave Oconee the ball back as the third quarter ended.
The game was scoreless in the fourth quarter and Morgan fell to their third loss in four games. Oconee County improved their record to 3-1 on the season. The Bulldogs have an off week before traveling to region favorite Monroe Area on September 21st. That game is set for 7:30 at Legion Field in Monroe.
Morgan County vs Oconee County Score by Quarters
Morgan Co. 0 0 0 0 0
Oconee Co. 7 13 0 0 20
Morgan County vs Oconee County Yardage Stats
Morgan Co. 23 16 39
Oconee Co. 200 77 277
Morgan County vs Oconee County Key Defensive Stats
Player Solos Assists TFL Sack Int. PBU Other
Cole Freeman 7 7 1 0 0 0 QBP
Denver Laughlin 2 2 0 0 1 3 FR
D.J. Jones 6 40000
Keirreon Farley 4 4 0 0 0 0 FF / QBP
David Williams 3 2 0 0 0 0 QBP (3)
Seth Robertson 3 1 0 0 0 2
Noah Brown 1 4 1 0 0 0 QBP
Jitavius Peters 1 4 1 0 0 0
Chris Walls 1 4 0 0 0 0
Donovan Caswell 1 3 0 0 0 0
Kevin Pearson 0 1 0 0 1 0
Note: QBP = Quarterback Pressure / FR = Fumble Recovery / PBU = Pass Broken Up