By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County’s Middle School football team made a thrilling come-from-behind second half effort to outlast the Carver (Monroe) Wildcats 18-12 by scoring two touchdowns in the final 16 minutes Wednesday. Zach Moore stole the show by scoring both touchdowns in the half on long passes from quarterback Talan Fuller (three TD passes for the afternoon) while also making a key interception on the final last gasp drive by the kittens. It was a thrilling finale.
It was all Carver in the first half. The visitors scored on their first possession gashing the Bulldogs for big yardage on the ground and in the air. The touchdown came with only 6:56 remaining in the first quarter. The two-point try was cut short, but the Cats led 6-0.
The Dogs were haunted by costly turnovers in the half. Morgan fumbled on their first play from scrimmage to give Carver great field position. They scored from the one on third down to take a 12-0 lead. With 3:43 left in the first period, the Wildcats again went for the two-point conversion, but were stymied again. Those two missed opportunities would be big down the stretch. It looked like the Dogs were in big trouble at this point.
Coach Aaron Paul gathered his troops after that and the defense stepped up to shut out Carver the rest of the way. Paul commented, “The defense played great after that point. Players like Zach Moore, Antavious Elder, Drew Cole, Darius Jackson, and Jaydon Dorsey all had solid games on defense for us.”
Morgan put together a drive after that but stalled at the 25 after two passes fell incomplete. On second and ten from the 30, Carver fumbled and was recovered by Morgan. The Dogs promptly went 60 yards on another beautiful drive, but an incomplete pass on fourth and goal ended the hopes of a score. However, on second down for the Cats, they fumbled once again and the Dogs were in business with only 19 ticks on the clock. With the ball sitting on the 17, Morgan threw an incompletion on first down before Tripp Lancaster took it in for the TD on a Fuller toss to give the boys some life and the momentum going into the break. The PAT failed and the Dogs trailed 12-6 at halftime. Morgan had to kick off with only :12 on the clock. Darius Jackson made an interception as time ran out.
The Dogs went four and out on their first possession, and Carver went on a long, sustained drive down to the Morgan 18 before Tyson Waller got a huge interception on the Bulldogs’ 18 yard line. Morgan went to work from there taking just five plays to go the distance. The big blow was a 45 yard touchdown pass to Moore from Fuller that finished off the drive. The wide open receiver outran a couple of defenders to tie the score at 12-all. The two-point conversion was no good as the third quarter ended on the play.
Morgan didn’t waste any time getting back on the board and taking the lead. After a four-and-out by Carver, the Fuller to Moore connection showed up again. On second down with 4:48 remaining in the contest, the pass play went 50 plus yards of which most of the play was after the catch. Moore outraced the defense to the goal line for the final 18-12 score after another failed two-point conversion.
It wasn’t over for the Wildcats just yet. Carver fumbled on the kickoff and Tyler Smith recovered it. Morgan went four-and-out down to the Wildcat 35. On first and ten for the Cats, Moore again showed up with a big interception to seal the deal. Cole recovered a late fumble as time expired.