Senior Tevin Waller sacks Hart County's quarterback.

Senior Tevin Waller sacks Hart County’s quarterback.

By Nick Nunn and Photos by Josiah Connelly

By Nick Nunn staff writer The Morgan County High School (MCHS) varsity football team lost to region opponent, the Hart County Bulldogs 8-26 last Friday, Nov. 1, for Morgan County’s final home game of the regular season. Morgan County’s region record now stands at 3-3 (6-3 overall), with one game remaining in the regular season.

This Friday, Nov. 8, the Morgan County Bulldogs will travel to Jackson County to take on the Panthers, who are 3-3 in the region but 3-6 overall during the 2013 season. Morgan County received the ball from Hart to begin the game last Friday, and the Dogs began their first drive from their own 33-yard line.

Melvin Davis ran for 27 yards on the first play of the game, and, four plays later, Davis would catch a 30-yard pass from Trent Hawk in the end zone for a Morgan County touchdown. Hart County incurred a penalty on the point after attempt, so the Dogs went for a two-point conversion. Hawk ran the ball himself for the extra points, putting Morgan County ahead early 8-0. Morgan County held Hart to a quick third and out for their first drive and were able to advance 59 yards downfield before the Dogs decided to go for a field goal on a fourth down with 12 yards to go for a first down. Andrew Bishop’s field goal attempt for the Dogs missed wide right, so Hart County took over on their own 20-yard line.

Again, Morgan County was able to hold Hart from making serious advancements, and the Dogs received the ball just before the end of the first quarter. Morgan and Hart matched each other’s efforts for most of the remainder of the second quarter, which prevented either team from advancing deep into enemy territory. Marquis Benton and Trey Chapman were each able to make double-digit advances despite Hart’s defense during the second quarter, and Tez Mathis was able to end a Hart County drive prematurely by picking off at Hart pass in Morgan County territory.

Despite Morgan County’s solid defensive play, Hart scored their first touchdown of the game with a 23-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in the first half after a 10-play drive. Hart kicked an extra point after the touchdown, but they remained behind Morgan County 7-8 going into halftime. Hart began the second half with possession, advancing far enough downfield to get into field goal range after seven plays.

Hart earned the field goal on the attempt, putting them ahead for the first time in the game 10-8. Hart County got another chance to increase their lead when Morgan County fumbled the ball deep in their own territory on the first drive of their next offensive. After picking up the fumble, Hart gained 27 yards on one play for their second touchdown of the game. The extra point pushed Hart’s lead to 17-8 with eight and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter. Morgan County was forced to punt after only three plays during their next drive, despite an eight-yard pass to Justice Chapman. Neither team would score again in the third quarter. Morgan County put together a seven-play drive to end the quarter, but Hart was able to get in field goal range during their first drive of the fourth quarter.

Hart’s second field goal of the game made the score 20-8 in Hart County’s favor. During the fourth quarter, Morgan County’s defense began holding Hart County’s defense to mainly short gains, but, unfortunately, the Morgan offense wasn’t able to gain any traction during their remaining drives.

Hart was able to drive the clock down to 17 seconds before scoring on their last drive of the game, giving Morgan County little chance to make up any of Hart County’s 26-8 lead. MCHS Head Football Coach Bill Malone described what led to Hart County’s dominance over Morgan County in the second half of the game “Their defensive ends started wearing us out,” said Coach Malone. “That shuts down quite a bit of what we like to do offensively. A lack of offensive production led to us being in the hole.”

Other than the performances on the field, Coach Malone noted a momentum shift that occurred when Hart County scored their first touchdown of the game right before halftime. “

That made a difference,” said Coach Malone, who then stated that going into halftime still up 8-0 or even 15-0 would have made a big difference in the way the game turned out. Hart’s 26-8 victory over Morgan County tied up the Dogs’ region record at 3-3.

Next week, the Dogs will take on the Jackson County Panthers in Jefferson to determine the Bulldogs’ postseason fate. Like Morgan County, the Panthers have lost three region games during their 2013, and this game will decide who will be the fourth seed finisher in region 8-AAA.

Among the other region teams after six games, East Jackson is 0-6, Franklin County and Oconee County are 1-5, North Oconee and Hart County (who face each other this Friday) are both 5-1, and Elbert County is undefeated in the region at 6-0.

Come out to Jackson County High School this Friday to cheer the Dogs onto a win to extend the 2013 season into the postseason. Directions to Jackson County High School: Take US-441 north toward Athens. Turn right onto Georgia Loop 10 and merge right onto Georgia Loop 10 north of Athens to continue on US-441. Take exit 14 on the Loop 10 and turn onto US-129 North toward Jefferson. Continue on US-129 North for approximately 15 miles until US-129 intersects with GA-11. Turn left on GA-11, and the Jackson County High School will be on the right after 0.2 miles.

Again, Morgan County was able to hold Hart from making serious advancements, and the Dogs received the ball just before the end of the first quarter.

Morgan and Hart matched each other’s efforts for most of the remainder of the second quarter, which prevented either team from advancing deep into enemy territory. Marquis Benton and Trey Chapman were each able to make double-digit advances despite Hart’s defense during the second quarter, and Tez Mathis was able to end a Hart County drive prematurely by picking off at Hart pass in Morgan County territory.

Despite Morgan County’s solid defensive play, Hart scored their first touchdown of the game with a 23-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in the first half after a 10-play drive. Hart kicked an extra point after the touchdown, but they remained behind Morgan County 7-8 going into halftime.

The Dogs held Franklin County in three plays on their next drive. Case Segrest sacked the Lions’ quarterback for a 9-yard loss, which forced Franklin County into a punt position.

Morgan County received the ball near the 50-yard line, and, after a 16-yard carry by Benton, Sam Couch made a fantastic, 40-yard run through Lion defenders into the end zone for the third touchdown of the first quarter. The point after attempt was successful, giving Morgan County a 21-6 lead. The Bulldogs scored their last touchdown of the first half just after the beginning of the second quarter. Following a five-play drive, Hawk threw another long pass to Davis in the end zone. With the extra point, the Dogs had moved ahead 28-6. The Lions were also able to put points on in the second quarter. After a 12-play drive, during which they converted two first downs on fourth-down plays, Franklin County’s quarterback pitched a ball into the end zone while being chased down by Morgan County defenders.

The pass was caught for Franklin County’s second touchdown of the game. The Lions did not make the extra point attempt, remaining behind the Dogs 12-28. Morgan County had only one complete possession during the third quarter. Couch leapt into the end zone over a Lion defender after a 20-yard carry for Morgan County’s fifth touchdown of the night, and the point after brought the Dogs to a 35-12 lead.

The Bulldogs held Franklin County during two drives in the third quarter, forcing turnovers on downs to end both possessions. Morgan County’s second drive of the third quarter spilled over into the fourth quarter. Less than a minute into the final 12 minutes, Benton scored his second touchdown of the game with a one-yard drive into the end zone.

Bristling at Morgan County’s 42-12 lead, the Lions put together their final scoring drive of the game. After obtaining good field position by recovering a Bulldog on-side kick attempt, Franklin County made steady movements across the field before finally reaching the end zone on a 16-yard carry.

The Lions missed their third extra point attempt of the game, putting Franklin County at 18-42. Morgan County scored once more on a short-gain play by Andre Peterson to make the score 49-18 late in the last quarter. During that drive Cody Harper advanced 35-yard on two carries to help get the Dogs into close yardage.

After another short Bulldog drive, the game ended on a knee with the final score 49-18 in Morgan County’s favor. Next week, the Morgan County Bulldogs host their final home game of the regular season against the Hart County Bulldogs. Hart County has a 7-1 record overall and is 4-1 in the region after their 21-23 loss to Elbert County last week. Come out and support the Dogs during their last home game of the regular season this Friday.