Dogs catch the action, Jackson
44-28 win over jackson means mchs headed to playoffs
By Nick Nunn
The Bulldogs beat the Jackson County Panthers 44-28 last Friday, securing Morgan County’s spot in the playoffs. The win brought the Bulldogs’ record to 8-2 and they will play the Gordon Central Warriors Friday at home for the first round of playoffs.
From the very first drive of the game, Jackson County’s offense showed that it was going to pose a problem for Morgan County.
The Panthers advanced 57 yards with the first seven plays of their drive, but Morgan County’s defense was able to stop them in the red zone, where they were able to gain only one yard.
The Panthers attempted to salvage their drive by kicking a field goal, but they didn’t make it, leaving the Bulldogs to begin their first drive on their own 20-yard line.
Jackson County’s defense held Morgan County to a mere four yards on the first drive, and they received the ball on Morgan County’s 45-yard line to begin their next drive.
It appeared that the Panthers would be able to drive deep into Morgan County’s territory on their second drive as well, but a sack by Austin Ross for a seven-yard loss held them at bay.
On a fourth-and-three situation, the Panthers tried a pass play to get a first down, but Michael Gray got his hands on the ball first and returned the ball 78 yards down the field for the first touchdown of the night.
“It was huge,” said Head Coach Bill Malone about the interception. I was nervous the entire week, knowing what was on the line, and I just never had a really good feeling.”
“Then, all of a sudden, here come Mike with a huge interception and outruns everyone for a long interception return.”
“That felt as if a lot of weight was lifted off of my shoulders emotionally. I knew that we still weren’t out of the woods.”
Going into the second quarter, Jackson County had the ball on their 45-yard line and were facing a fourth down with two yards to go for a first down.
But Grayson Segrest and Stewart Spence were able to make the stop on the play, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Bulldogs’ next drive was a success. Andrew Couch carried the ball 15-yards into the endzone, bringing the score to 0-14 with over nine minutes to go in the second quarter.
Jackson County scored quickly on their next drive after a 45-yard gain on the first play of the drive.
Morgan County was able to score once more in the half. On a fourth down, Trent Hawk, under pressure, through a nine-yard pass to Ross deep in the endzone.
Coming out of the fieldhouse after the halftime show, the teams found that some of the lights had gone out on the field as a result of a technical issue.
Jackson County asked for the beginning of the second half to be delayed until the lights could be brought back on, which caused a short postponement in the middle of the game.
Coach Malone reflected on the delay after the game.
“The light bank going out didn’t hurt us any, but, anytime you disrupt what has been a normal flow, it can be a distraction. I’m proud that our kids didn’t allow that to bother them.”
Some of the Bulldogs saw Jackson’s desire to wait as a sign of weakness.
“Stewart Spence was really fired up that Jackson County was the one that didn’t want os to go ahead and play,” said Malone. “He came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I can see you and you can see me. They can see us, why don’t we play?’”
The Bulldogs received the ball leading 21-7 to begin the second half.
After a short kickoff by the Panthers, Morgan County was able to score again after two plays, a 28-yard carry by Marquis Benton and a 34-yard touchdown run by Couch.
On the next possession by the Bulldogs, Segrest was able to score his second touchdown of the season, giving Morgan County a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter.
Jackson County forced the Bulldogs to punt on their next drive, but the punt attempt by Tristan Yontz was blocked, and the Panthers got the ball on Morgan County’s 4-yard line.
Jackson County scored two plays later, making the score 35-14 going into the last quarter of the game.
Due to a Bulldog fumble deep in Jackson County’s territory, the Panthers started the first drive of the last quarter on their own 11-yard line.
On the fourth down, the Panthers attempted to punt, but the snap was botched, and the Bulldogs were able to tackle Jackson’s kicker in the end zone, scoring a safety for Morgan County.
Couch scored his third touchdown of the night for Morgan County at the end of the next drive, bringing the score to 44-14 with time running out on Jackson County.
In the final minutes of the game, the Panthers were able to score 14 points, but those two touchdowns weren’t nearly enough to overcome their deficit.
The game ended with a 44-28 victory for Morgan County.
As both teams took to the field to greet each other, Coach Malone was surprised with an ice-water bath from Stewart Spence and Carter Shultz, who had held a water cooler in reserve for the win.
“You talk about a shocking experience,” said Malone. “I had no idea it was coming. That coat saved me.”
“Our kids are not overly emotional, but, to see them really be joyous, it made my heart feel good that they felt obliged to really celebrate.”
Because of the win, Morgan County moved to second seed in the region. Come out to see the Bulldogs play Gordon Central at Bill Corry stadium this Friday at 7:30.
Printed in the November 15, 2012 edition