By Alvin Richardson
Morgan County came into last Friday’s game as a solid favorite but the Jackson County Panthers of Coach Rich McWhorter just wouldn’t go away. The Bulldogs managed a 13-3lead at halftime but Jackson County scored early in the third quarter to close the gap to 13-10 and the teams traded touchdowns after that as Morgan held on for a 20-17 Region 8AAA win. That put the Bulldogs at 5-1 overall on the season and 2-0 in region play – tied with Jefferson for first place and a half-game ahead of Hart County (1-0).
The Bulldogs got a big lift on offense from quarterback Trent Folds (208 passing yards / three touchdowns), from Jerrit Wyatt (6 receptions and 2 TD’s) and from Seth Robertson (5 receptitons and 1 TD). The defensive effort was led by senior linebacker Cole Freeman who finished with six solo tackles, nine assists and a tackle for loss.
The Panthers served notice that they would not be taken lightly when they took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. On their opening possession they drove 81 yards to the Morgan nine yard line. From there they kicked a 26 yard field goal and it was game on. The Dogs responded quickly when Folds hit Wyatt for 59 yards to the Jackson County 24. Four plays later the same duo hooked up on a nine yard fade route for a touchdown. Bennett Ianelli’s PAT made it 7-3 with 2:20 left in the opening frame.
After an exchange of punts Morgan got on the board again. This time Folds found Robertson on a deep post route that covered 65 yards for six points. Jackson County was off sides on the extra point try and Coach Bill Malone sent his offense back out to go for two but the run failed leaving the score at 13-3 with 9:33 left in the second period.
It looked like Morgan might take control when they drove to the Panther 29 late in the half. The Dogs got there courtesy of a 45 yard pass from Folds to Robertson and some solid running from Quinton Proby but the drive faltered when an errant snap backed them way up and spoiled the opportunity. The teams went to intermission with Morgan leading 13-3.
Jackson County quickly made things close again. On their opening drive of the third quarter they marched 67 yards on just five plays with their quarterback scoring on a keeper from 21 yards out. The PAT made it 13-10 with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
Morgan couldn’t move on their ensuing possession and the momentum seemed to be slipping away until Denver Laughlin made one of the biggest plays of the night. Jackson County had third and 12 from their 25 and fired a pass down the middle but Laughlin picked it off and ran it back to the Panther 14. On the first play Morgan suffered a holding penalty that set them back to the 24 but on the next play Folds found Wyatt on a post route that was good for a touchdown. Ianelli booted the extra point to give the Dogs a little breathing room at 20-10 with 7:11 left in the third quarter but the issue was far from settled.
The MCHS defensive unit forced punts on Jackson County’s next two series and on the second one a Bulldog fumble was recovered by the Panthers at midfield. From there Morgan suffered one major penalty and the Jackson County quarterback made a couple of nifty runs to give the Panthers a first and goal at the three. Jackson County lost five yards on first down so they had three downs to get in from the eight. They got it on fourth and goal from the one with 11:41 left in the final period and the scoreboard read Morgan 20 and Jackson County 17.
Folds went deep on the ensuing series but a Panther defender picked it off and Jackson County had possession at their 34. They drove all the way to Morgan’s 29 but suffered a personal foul penalty and wound up kicking. The Panthers got the ball back once more at their 40 with 3:17 left but Chris Walls ended their hopes with a sack on fourth and ten.
Morgan County is at home this Friday night against region foe Franklin County. A preview of that game can be found in a separate article.
Game time this week is 7:30 at Bill Corry Stadium.
Morgan County vs Franklin County Score by Quarters
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Morgan Co. 7 6 7 0 20
Jackson Co. 3 0 7 7 17
Morgan County vs Franklin County Yardage Totals
Rushing Passing Total
Morgan Co. 73 208 281
Jackson Co. 167 103 270
Morgan County vs Franklin County Key Defensive Stats
Player Solos Assists TFL Int. PBU Sack Other
Cole Freeman 6 9 1 0 0 0 0
Chris Walls 1 2 2 0 0 1 0
Denver Laughlin 2 2 0 1 0 0 0
Noah Brown 1 4 2 0 1 0 QBP
Elijah Reynolds 3 1 1 0 1 1 0
Keirreon Farley 1 0 0 1 0 0 QBP
Criston Foster 2 1 1 0 0 0 QBP
Gavyn Lewis 2 0 2 0 0 0 0
(Note: TFL = Tackle for loss / PBU = Pass broken up / QBP = Quarterback pressure)
Morgan County vs Jackson County Key Offensive Stats
Passing Comp. / Att. Yards TD’s
Trent Folds 12 / 23 208 3
Rushing Att. Yards Yds. / Carry TD’s
Quinton Proby 16 46 2.9 0
Kobridgette Lumpkin 7 23 3.3 0
Receiving Receptions Yards Yards / Catch TD’s
Seth Robertson 5 107 21.4 1
Jerrit Wyatt 6 92 15.3 2
Keirreon Farley 1 9 9.0 0
Kicking PAT’s FG’s
Bennett Ianelli 2 x 2 0 x 0
Scores of Interest
Monroe Area 56 East Jackson 7
Jefferson 33 Franklin Co. 0
Hart Co. DNP
Warren Co. 34 Greene Co. 8
Loganville 42 Walnut Grove 0
Oconee Co. 21 Winder-Barrow 13
Region 8AAA Standings
Team Overall Region
Morgan Co. 5-1 2-0
Jefferson 4-1 2-0
Hart Co. 5-0 1-0
Monroe Area 4-2 1-1
East Jackson 3-3 0-2
Jackson Co. 2-4 0-2
Franklin Co. 0-5 0-1