A North Oconee player jumps over Sam Couch on his way to a touchdown. Photo by Jesse Walker

A North Oconee player jumps over Sam Couch on his way to a touchdown. Photo by Jesse Walker

By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

The Morgan County High School (MCHS) varsity Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the 2013 season last Friday night to region opponent, the North Oconee Titans, 56-14. The Bulldogs weren’t able to tack on their first points until the third quarter, when the Titans were already 42 points ahead, and Morgan County had occasion to score only twice in regulation.

Last Friday night was a pink-out, and the Morgan County stands were packed with fans in pink to show their support of breast cancer awareness, but things were far from rosy for the Bulldogs.

Through the first quarter, the Bulldogs held North Oconee to a seven-point lead, but the Titans continued to increase their lead unanswered until the third quarter, when the Dogs had fallen 42 points behind.

North Oconee received the ball to begin the game, and, after an incomplete pass and a holding penalty on a running play – the Titans would incur several serious penalties over the course of the game – North Oconee scored their first touchdown of the game on a 68-yard running play.

Down seven points just 40 seconds into the game, the Dogs were not able to get any momentum in their first drive and were forced to punt the ball back to the Titans, who set up at the Dogs’ 43-yard line.

The Titans put the ball in the end zone again, but the play was called back because of a personal foul penalty. North Oconee committed another personal foul and then had an offensive pass interference penalty called against them, forcing the Titans into a punt position.

Morgan County was able to pull together a six-play drive but only advanced a total of 19-yards before returning the ball to the Titans.

The Dogs held the Titans to a seven-point lead through the first quarter, but North Oconee scored on their first play of the second period to make the score 14-0.

Morgan County was able to make short advances on their next drive but could not convert a first down.

North Oconee advanced 49-yards in three plays to score during their next drive, and Morgan County responded by putting together their longest drive of the night, 17 plays, traversing half of the field before a botched snap on a fourth down play forced a turnover on downs.

The Titans scored once more in the quarter, leaving only 29 seconds before halftime, and the teams left the field with North Oconee ahead 28-0.

The teams’ marching bands played long during their halftime shows. The football teams tried to take the field but had to stand in their respective end zones and watch the finale of the Morgan County band, which sprinted off the field to yield to the teams immediately after the last note.

Morgan County received the ball deep in their own territory to begin the third quarter, but a fumble on the first play of the drive gave North Oconee an opportunity to scoop up the ball and cover the short distance to the end zone.

During their next drive, the Dogs weren’t able to advance on the Titans, who were ahead 35-0, and North Oconee earned their last unanswered touchdown after seven plays on their next offensive.

Down 42-0, the Bulldogs scored their first touchdown of the game with a 70-yard reverse play, which Melvin Davis took into the end zone.

North Oconee responded quickly to the Dogs’ touchdown by returning the next kickoff into Morgan County’s end zone, but the return was called back because of an illegal block by a Titan.

The Titans also incurred an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during their drive, and they could not overcome the deficit that penalty created, forcing North Oconee to put to the Dogs.

The teams traded possessions, and only North Oconee scored again in the quarter, putting them ahead 49-7 with only the last twelve minutes remaining in the game.

Morgan County struck first in the last quarter with a 72-yard touchdown run by Davis, and the extra point brought the score to 49-14.

North Oconee then scored their last points of the game with a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of their next drive. Five minutes later, the game ended with the score in North Oconee’s favor, 56-14.

Despite the strength of the North Oconee football program, the final score wasn’t what MCHS Head Football Coach Bill Malone was expecting out of the game.

“It hit me in the face like a ton of bricks,” said Malone. “That’s something that we’re not accustomed to.”

However, Coach Malone was proud of the fact that Morgan County’s athletes were able to continue playing hard until the end of the game. During an interview before the North Oconee game, Malone stated that one of his goals against the Titans was having the players buckle down no matter what the score.

“I definitely saw that we worked hard throughout the game,” state Coach Malone. “We played hard and kept our emotions in check.”

This Friday, Oct. 12, the Bulldogs face region opponent, the Elbert County Blue Devils in Elberton beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Click here for more photos of the MCHS-North Oconee game.