By R. Alan Richardson
With the Dogs clinging to a slim 6-0 margin at the half, the Morgan County JV Bulldog football squad put some major points on the board in the second stanza to grab a 26-6 win over visiting East Jackson. In the season’s home opener, it was all MOCO in the second half. The Dogs took advantage of some costly Eagle cough-ups in the pivotal final 20 minutes.
Both teams started slowly and the game was marred by penalties and turnovers. Both teams went four and out on their first possession, but Morgan got a touchdown on a long run by Samaurea Ward on their second series of downs. However, the play was negated by a penalty, and it was another ball exchange between both squads.
The Dogs finally got something going late in the first quarter. Starting on their own 25, they marched 75 yards in eight plays to take the 6-0 lead. After short gains on the first two plays, quarterback Demarcus (DJ) Smith picked up a first down on a quarterback keeper. Running back Jacere Cooper moved the chains on the next two plays with runs of 11 and 15 yards before Smith hit Javier Laguin on a long pass that carried the Dogs down to the 15-yard line in Eagle territory. The long drive culminated in a touchdown by Cooper with 7:51 remaining in the second period. The Dogs led 6-0 after the two-point conversion off tackle was stopped. The remainder of the half was a defensive struggle.
On the ensuing kickoff Bennett Ianelli made a nice onside kick that the Dogs recovered, but couldn’t move the ball. Ryan Clark put East Jackson in a hole with a nice punt that rolled into the end zone. Morgan had another Cooper touchdown called back on a holding call and yet another on a pass from Smith. The Dogs looked snake bit at this point, and took the slim six-point margin into intermission.
However, Coach Carter Shultz dialed up an onside kick to start the second half and the Dogs were in business after the recovery. After a first down the drive stalled on fourth and one due to a bad snap. On an East Jackson punt, it was Rogers Clark who found a way to get the Dogs into the end zone. He muffed the punt, recovered it in stride, reversed field completely, and raced around the right side of the coverage for the score. His 50-plus yard return gave Morgan the momentum and the 12-0 advantage. Cooper went in for the two-points and the Dogs went up 14-0 with 3:45 left in the third period.
The Eagles fought back on their very next possession stringing together a 75 yard drive that lasted 2:45 seconds for some new life. With a minute remaining in the quarter, the 10-play drive resulted in a quarterback keeper that covered the final four yards for the score. It was now a game at 14-6. Jesse Hawkins III’s knocked down pass on the two-point conversion came at a critical time in the game to spoil the extra point try.
It was now the Eagles who tried some trickery of their own as they tried the onside kick. It was successful as East Jackson recovered on the 49. Damien Walker and Samaurea Ward came up with back-to-back tackles behind the line to force an East Jackson punt followed by a four-and-out possession for Morgan.
Later in the period MOCO’s Sawyer Frost recovered an East Jackson fumble in Eagle territory. Two plays later, and after a Smith keeper to the 35, Cooper had a third TD called back. On the next play, Smith scampered around right end on first and 20 for the score that put Morgan ahead 20-6. The PAT was no good with 4:50 remaining in the game.
The final score of the ballgame came late when Smith ran an almost identical play around right end on the keeper with 2:08 for the final of 26-6.
Defensive coordinator for the JV, Carter Shultz, talked about the defensive effort, “I was really happy with the way the entire unit played, but our D-Line really set the tone in the first half, and inside linebacker Jam Lewis had a very good game. Rogers Clarke had a punt return for a touchdown and played well at strong safety as well as Javier Laguin at our star position. This unit gets almost all the reps at scout team vs the varsity in practice and they have really benefited from going against good competition day in and day out. I look forward to watching them play for the rest of the year. They fly around and play fast which is really the culture we have worked to build at all levels in our program on the defensive side of the ball.”
Coach Marvin Mathis told us, “Offensively we clicked too late, but we have a lot of weapons. Once we work as a team and build some chemistry we will be a force on the gridiron.”
Today the JV team will face off with Monroe Area on the road and then observe an off-week next Thursday. Game time today is 5:30 p.m.