By R. Alan Richardson
On a sweltering afternoon at Bill Corry Stadium, the MCHS JV football team took out archrival Oconee County 22-8 in a game that was actually much closer than the score indicates. There was a small feeling of revenge after the varsity Warriors handed Morgan County their worst defeat of the season two weeks ago.
Morgan started the game strong going on a 15-play drive that gobbled up most of the first quarter clock. Tre Hawkins, DJ Smith, Jay Eubanks, Maurea Ward, Rogers Clark, and others played major roles in the drive that started deep in Bulldog territory. With 5:20 remaining in the first period, Eubanks plunged in from two yards out to give the Dogs the first score on the afternoon. The longest play in the drive was a 12 yard completion from quarterback Smith to receiver Clark. That play gave MOCO first down on the six yard line. It took two more plays to take the 6-0 lead. Morgan opted for two on the conversion. A short pass to Javier Laguin in the end zone gave the Dogs the 8-0 advantage.
Oconee took the kickoff after the TD and set out on a long drive that stalled in Morgan territory. On third and seven, Gaines Mercer got a tackle for loss that set up a fourth and 15 for the visitors. The pass failed and Morgan had stopped the charge early in the second quarter.
On their next possession the JV lost yardage on an intentional grounding call, a false start, and a sack. Coach Marvin Mathis had seen enough. The ensuing timeout wasn’t about X’s and O’s, but about how much character the Dogs would show on the afternoon. Clark got off an outstanding punt on fourth and forever that was downed on the Warrior 29 to give Morgan some good field position. Damien Walker stopped that offensive series of Oconee when he knocked down a pass on third down, but Oconee sent a booming punt that settled on the Morgan County six yard line. The Dogs struggled to move the ball and another punt by Clark was called for. An unblocked lineman came untouched from the right side and Clark was forced to pull the ball down and make a run for it. He got the first down, but the next series was stymied when a bad snap over Smith’s head saw Morgan looking at a second and long situation. Oconee intercepted on third down, but couldn’t move the ball. In the final possession of the first half, the Dogs almost scored on a screen pass to Hawkins who came up short of the goal. The half ended 8-0 in favor of Morgan County. The long sustained drive on their first possession of the game was the only scoring for either side.
Bennett Ianelli did a fine job with the kicking chores and his second half kickoff gave the Warriors the ball on their own 35. After a three-and-out series, Oconee punted it away with the Dogs taking over on their 33 yard line. Morgan went on a nine-play drive and scored with 4:02 showing in the third period. The big play of the drive came on a Smith to Hawkins connection that covered 40 yards down to the Morgan six. After two runs up the gut that were stopped for short gains, Eubanks again took it in from the one. Ward was the recipient of a Pratt Spivey pass for the two-point conversion to put the Dogs up 16-0. It was Oconee that would then test Morgan’s defense for the first time. An eight-play drive culminated in a six yard pass over the middle to the tight end who was wide open for the PAT. The touchdown kept Oconee within striking distance at 16-8 with 40 seconds showing on the clock in the third stanza.’
Morgan answered immediately on the kickoff when Laguin ripped off a 40 yard return to the Oconee County 48. It took Morgan only six plays to capitalize on the nice return. The Dogs got two first downs and moved to their 27. On first and 10 from there, it was Spivey rifling a pass to Ashton Cooper from there to cap the drive with a TD at the 7:40 mark in the final period. The PAT was stopped and Morgan led 22-8.
The Bulldog defense played tough all afternoon and the fourth period was no exception. Morgan stopped the Warriors on a fourth and 12 by forcing an incomplete pass and ended the game with another stop as time expired. It was a great effort for the youngsters in a bragging-rights contest.
Coach Carter Shultz gave us his thoughts on the game. “I thought the team as a whole played very well. It was our most complete performance up to this point. Our offense was able to score early and did a good job moving the ball and our defense was salty and kept them out of the end zone until late in the game. Anytime we can get a win over Oconee it’s a good thing. I look forward to watching us continue to progress and finish the season on a high note.”