By R. Alan Richardson
The Morgan County JV football team continued their winning ways with an entertaining 30-26 victory over Region foe Jackson County last week. The play of Jay Eubanks, Pratt Spivey, Rogers Clark, DJ Smith, and Javier Laguin sparked the offense to the win.
The see-saw battle started with the Dogs taking the lead on their first possession. They marched 68 yards in only six plays to draw first blood. Running back Eubanks, putting together a fine season, was again the leading ground gainer in the contest. His runs on the first drive of 8, 8, 36, and 5 yards highlighted the drive to the Jackson County 14 before quarterback Pratt Spivey connected with Ashton Cooper on a pass that covered the final yardage. The touchdown pass was followed by a successful two point try. This time it was Rogers Clark who was the recipient of another Spivey pass for the 8-0 lead at 8:30 in the first quarter.
Jackson County bounced right back for a score to tie things up. The Panthers took the short kickoff on their 42 yard line and ran five plays for the touchdown on a quarterback sneak. The two-point conversion was good to put the score at 8-8 and 6:40 still showing in the first quarter of play.
Morgan fumbled on their next possession midway through the first period to give Jackson County great field position on the Bulldogs’ 33, but could not capitalize. After forcing a three-and-out, the Dogs took it in for their second score of the afternoon. The 75-yard drive culminated in a touchdown pass from Spivey into the familiar hands of Clarke who hauled in the 48-yarder as time expired in the first period. The point after try was again successful as the Dogs regained the lead at 16-8.
The teams traded possessions for the remainder of the quarter until the Panthers struck again. With only 40 ticks on the clock before the half, Jackson County scored on a 69 yard pass on third and nine. The PAT was no good and the half ended with MOCO holding a slight 16-14 advantage.
Jackson County received the second half kick and Morgan’s defense stood up. Javier Laguin made a very nice play on a deep ball from his corner position with a broken up pass and Michael Young got a tackle for loss to stop the Panthers on fourth and seven. Morgan wasted no time scoring. Laguin gained 16 yards on a reverse and Eubanks did the rest on dive plays. The final four-yard plunge gave Morgan some more cushion before quarterback DJ Smith ran over a defensive back for the extra point. The Dogs led 24-8 with 6:03 in the third quarter.
Jackson County then put together two unanswered scores to get within striking distance at 24-20 with 9:26 in the final period before the Dogs’ offense got rolling again. The drive started on the Morgan 21. After two positive gains, Smith went around end on a quarterback sweep that put the ball on the Jackson County 35. He then connected on a 30 yard pass to (you guessed it) Clark down to the five. After a Morgan penalty, it was Smith and Eubanks accounting for the final yardage. The three yard Eubanks run gave Morgan a 30-20 lead with plenty of time (7:33) for Jackson to “make some noise.” And, that’s what they did, but it was too little, too late.
Jackson County gained five first downs on their next charge that took only 2:33 off the clock. With 5:05 showing, they pranced in from four yards out, but decided to kick the extra point that missed wide left. The Dogs, hanging on to a slim 30-26 lead, were expecting the obvious onside kick that was corralled by The Good Hands People from Allstate on the front line. However, this one wasn’t over.
Jackson forced Morgan to go for the first down on fourth and four. A Panther player tackled Smith in the backfield to give Jackson County one final shot for the win. With precious time on Morgan’s side and winding down, the visitors drove the ball deep into Morgan territory. The defense again stood up to the test when Young and others got a huge sack with under a minute showing on second down. This forced the Panthers into a passing attack on third and fourth downs, but the secondary was up to the task forcing two incompletions for the ballgame and the big win. Morgan ran out the clock with every coach’s favorite play; taking a knee for the 30-26 victory as the players, fans, and coaches celebrated.
Head Coach and offensive coordinator, Marvin Mathis said, “The young talent has started to click but just not consistent yet. I know once this young team clicks the offense will score every drive and the defense will hold every team to zero, which is our goal. The entire coaching staff was happy to come out on the winning side, but knowing that there is always room for improvement. We encourage everyone to come out this week for the final game of the JV season versus Hart County.”
Defensive coordinator Carter Shultz added, “I was really happy with the way we played against Jackson. I think that was a big win for our program. The kids really battled against a very good team. The game was back and forth but one thing that was steady was the effort. We had a ton of guys playing both ways and they played with a lot of guts. Asking those young guys to play that much and them to respond the way they did is very positive moving forward. Beat Hart!”
The JV will end their season Oct. 24 against Hart County on the road. Kickoff is 5:30 p.m.