By R. Alan Richardson
It was business as usual for the Morgan County Bulldogs as they took down the Franklin County Lions Friday night at Bill Corry Stadium. The Dogs moved to 6-1 with the win and upped their Region record to 3-0 with a huge game looming at Jefferson this Friday. The showdown will pit MOCO against one of the state’s top AAA teams (number 4) with both squads defending an unblemished mark in 8-AAA play.
The winless Lions came in with high hopes of an upset (think South Carolina), but those hopes were quickly dashed as the Bulldogs scored on their first two possessions. Morgan took the opening kickoff and traveled 43 yards in two plays after a 49 yard kickoff return from Seth Robertson. Quarterback Trent Folds unloaded to Robertson for 18 yards and then to Chris Walls for the remaining 24 for the touchdown. It took only :31 seconds for Morgan to strike. The pass for the touchdown was on blown coverage by Franklin as Walls ran a wheel route out of the backfield and waltzed in untouched. With 11:29 showing it was 7-0 after Bennett Ianelli made good on the PAT.
The Dog defense forced a three-and-out on the Lions’ first possession and wasted no time putting more points on the board. This time it took Morgan all of two minutes for their second score; another touchdown pass. This time it was Folds hitting Keirreon Farley from nine yards out. The drive saw Folds hit receivers for gains of 23 to Denver Laughlin, 12 to Robertson, and the final nine for the score. The big fella had a nice night tossing the football going 10-16 for 131 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Farley score and Ianelli extra point gave the Dogs a 14-0 cushion with 7:29 remaining in the first stanza.
Franklin next put together their best drive of the evening to make things interesting. The seven-play drive ended with a touchdown on a jet sweep with 4:02. The Lions lined up for the PAT only to run a fake two-point try on a pass that fell short. It was now 14-6, but the Dogs were just getting cranked up.
After the two teams exchanged punts, the Dogs put together another drive for a score. Morgan went 64 yards and was aided on the drive by a pass interference call on Franklin’s defender in the end zone while covering Jerrit Wyatt. With the ball now on the Franklin 14, Proby weaved through traffic for the scored. Ianelli, who was a perfect 5-5 on the night, nailed the PAT to push the Dogs ahead 21-6 with 10:17 showing in the second period.
Morgan’s defense, led by a Jacob Pritchett sac on third down, forced a punt that only traveled nine yards to the Dogs’47. Looking at great field position, MOCO scored for the fourth time of the half. Kobridgette Lumpkin had his number called on the sweep and he made the most of it galloping48 yards down to the Franklin 4 before being stopped. On the ensuing play, Lumpkin was given the honors on a dive play to cover the final yardage for the TD. Morgan led 28-6 as Ianelli again split the uprights with 7:16 remaining before intermission.
The Lions got a 30-yard field goal with 1:02 showing in the second period, but Morgan wasn’t thinking about taking their foot off the pedal. Robertson again returned the short kickoff 46 yards to the Franklin 23 and Coach Bill Malone went for the jugular. With the Dogs looking at a third and 10, the Lions were flagged for a second time for pass interference in the end zone. The Dogs were now looking at first and 10 from the Franklin 11. Robertson took the handoff on a jet sweep and put the final nail in the Lions’ coffin to give Morgan a comfortable 35-9 halftime lead. Ianelli isn’t perfect on the night without the help of the offensive line, the snapper, and the holder. Snapper Key Malone and holder Austin Knight were also perfect on the evening. These guys deserve a lot of credit for a tough task.
The second half saw the coaching staff make some wholesale substitutions early. It could have been much worse, but showing great sportsmanship as usual the coaches called off the Dogs. Highlights for the second half included some nice running by sophomore Jay Eubanks, solid defensive play by underclassmen Javier Laguin, Damien Walker, William Jeffries, Jonathan Nash, Braxton Harris, and others, as well as a late Franklin touchdown.
It took the Lions, mostly playing against the Morgan JV lineup, 18 plays to get their final points. They scored from six yards out with 8:44 in the fourth for the final score of 35-16. The Dogs ran out the remaining clock with Pratt Spivey under center and calling the plays.
For the night, it was Folds leading the way in passing while Lumpkin was the leading rusher with 64 yards on 10 attempts. Robertson led the receiving corps with five catches for 59 yards. On defense, Key Malone was a mainstay for the Dogs with nine tackles and one tackle for loss and DJ Jones had eight tackles.
Morgan will take on the Jefferson Dragons Friday on the road with kickoff scheduled for 7:30.