By R. Alan Richardson
It was a beautiful night for football at Jefferson’s Memorial Stadium Friday, and for a half the Morgan County Bulldogs met their surroundings with some beautiful play. Had it not been for a couple of things that went against the Dogs, Morgan could have been tied with the Dragons at the intermission. However, those mishaps proved to be part of the Bulldog downfall, and the second half Jefferson showed why they hold the number three ranking in AAA this week.
As some in the Jefferson press box noted in the second half of play, the final score did not indicate how close the game was and could have been. Things just snowballed on MOCO in the final 24 minutes as the score ballooned from a single TD of 14-6 at halftime to 47-12 at the final buzzer. The Dragons put up 33 points against Morgan’s 6 with two scores coming in the third period and three more in the fourth.
Morgan took the opening kickoff and put together a nice drive to the Jefferson 40 before stalling. Most of that yardage was gained on the ground with Quinton Proby and Kobridgette Lumpkin being the workhorses. Trent Folds’ punt went into the end zone for a touchback to give the Dragons their first possession of the evening on the 20 yard line. They drove methodically down the field in a 12-play 80-yard drive that culminated in the first score of the night. The PAT was good to give the home team a 7-0 lead with 2:03 showing in the first quarter.
The Dogs answered on their next possession. Seth Robertson returned the kickoff to the Bulldog 32. Jefferson intercepted a Folds pass, but a pass interference call kept the drive alive. Folds then hit Keirreon Farley on a 45 yard strike to the Jefferson five that set up the first Morgan score. With :18 seconds remaining in the first period, Farley came in on third and two in the Wild Dog set and scored from two yards out. The PAT was missed and Morgan trailed 7-6.
The Dragons used their option offense effectively in the next series as quarterback Colby Clark began to assert himself. Jefferson scored with 9:13 in the quarter on a 24 yard option to gain the 14-6 advantage after the extra point was kicked. Morgan proceeded to go on their longest drive of the evening. Starting at their 37 behind another Robertson return, the Dogs put the defense on their heels and went on a 15-play drive that ate up most of the second quarter. Looking at a first and goal from the Jefferson 7, Morgan pushed the ball to the two yard line, but fumbled on second down and lost two yards. With two plays to get the ball into the end zone, the Dogs came up short on a huge play when Jefferson stopped them on fourth down on the one yard line with a little over three minutes until intermission. The half ended 14-6.
Unfortunately, the second half was not a mirror image of the first. Jefferson had lady luck on their side on the first touchdown. After Jefferson’s quarterback fumbled on their 26, he was able to scoop up the errant pigskin and run it down to the Morgan one yard line before being stopped. They scored on a quarterback sneak with 7:31 to take a 21-6 lead after the PAT was good. Morgan gave the Dragons some help on their next possession. An interception led to a Jefferson return to the Dogs’ 24. One play later, the home team capitalized with a 24 yard TD pass with 5:38. At that point, Morgan trailed 27-6 and things were suddenly going sideways for the Dogs.
But MOCO didn’t give in and drove the ball to the Jefferson 25 being aided by a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the Dragons. An interception at the Jefferson three halted the drive. A clock-killing 97-yard drive ensued that put Jefferson in for their fifth touchdown with 11:19 showing in the final quarter. They scored two more times after another fumble on the kickoff return and a score late in the game. One huge highlight in the second half was Farley’s 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It gave the Dog fans something to shout about in an otherwise difficult situation. The final was 47-12.
This now leads us to the 8-AAA Region race and playoff implications. Jefferson has the Region Championship under wraps if they can win against Monroe Area and win out. The Hurricanes (3-1) defeated Hart County (1-2) in somewhat of a surprise this past week. Hart now has two losses. If the Dogs (3-1) can win out, defeat Hart, and Monroe can defeat Jefferson (4-0), a whole new set of circumstances come into play. According to Coach Bill Malone, a three-way tie between the teams would bring the +12/-12 rule into play that considers average points per loss or win. It’s somewhat tricky and way above my pay grade to explain completely. Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see how the next three weeks play out. It could get interesting.
The only thing the Dogs can control is what is in front of them. They need wins over East Jackson and Hart before they even worry about all the scenarios. It’s certain that’s the way the coaching staff is thinking. Go Dogs.
Side note: I would like to thank Coach Steve Cisson for joining me in the press box as a spotter. It sure makes life easier when you have a second set of eyes. Kudos also go out to the folks in the Jefferson press box. They were more than welcoming and proved to be a first class act. Thanks.