The Year: 1964; The Game: Morgan vs. Toccoa
By Alvin Richardson
Editor’s Note: This excerpt is pulled from ‘It’s a Dawgs Life: 60 Years Of Morgan County Football’ and is a recap of a pivotal game in the 1964 season. Jack Gnehm was the coach and the game is a playoff game tiebreaker against Toccoa. It was one of the most controversial losses in Morgan County football history.
The sub-region race was a mad scramble. Toccoa had beaten Washington earlier in the year, Morgan County had beaten Toccoa and Washington-Wilkes had trimmed Morgan 21-20 in the last game giving each one loss. It was the classic three way tie and the rule at the time was to break the sub-region tie (if possible) by looking at the teams’ records against other teams in Class B, but not in the sub-region. Washington-Wilkes was the odd man out having lost to Jackson during the year.
That left Morgan with an outside win over Jones County and Toccoa with an outside win over East Fannin (both Class B schools outside sub-region 4B. The result of both teams having identical records inside the region and on outside games in Class B gave rise to a playoff game between Morgan and Toccoa. It would turn out to be the most controversial game in MCHS history.
It is never an easy thing to defeat a quality opponent twice in a season. Morgan County had defeated Toccoa 27-13 in the eighth game of the season and now, in order to advance, had to do it all over again.
The game turned into a low scoring defensive duel with Toccoa going on top 6-0 until Harold Tamplin scored to even the score at 6-6 in the fourth quarter. The game ended that way so it would be decided by the Georgia High School Association tie-breaker rule that awarded one point to the team with the most first downs, one point to the team with the most penetrations (inside the 20 and including touchdowns), and one point for net yards.
Morgan was awarded the point for first downs for having 10 to Toccoa’s six. Toccoa was awarded a point for penetrations having two to Morgan’s one.
The final point was awarded to Toccoa on net yards as they had 153 to the Bulldog’s 148.
There was much confusion over the net yard point. It was explained in a ruling printed in The Madisonian the following week from GHSA’s Executive Secretary Sam Burke. It read, “The statisticians reported: During the Fourth quarter after the two minute meeting had been held with the coaches, the following play took place: Toccoa’s ball – during the play Toccoa lost six yards. Toccoa clipped during the play at a point two yards behind the spot where the run ended.
Morgan County captain accepted the penalty and the down was replayed after the penalty was assessed.
It was the interpretation of the officials that there was no yardage lost because the penalty was accepted and the down was replayed. S.F. Burke Executive Secretary of the GHSA reviewed the ruling and said the ruling as made above by the officials was correct.” A murky, cumbersome tie-breaker rule in which net yards was the culprit, ended the Bulldog’s season on a sour note.
Needless to say, the tie-breaker rules needed some work because at best, yards gained on any particular play can vary at least one yard per play. It was a bitter pill to swallow.