Turnovers dog MorganPublished 11:45pm Friday, September 24, 2010
SELMA — Morgan Academy head coach Brian King knew this week’s matchup with Bessemer was crucial to the Senators’ march toward the playoffs. It was a game he and his team had circled on the calendar and knew they had to win, but mental errors continued to dog the Senators as they committed seven turnovers, losing to the visiting Rebels 28-19.
“This is a game we knew we needed to win,” King said. “Now we have to fight just to make the playoffs. We have three straight region games coming up and they’re all decent teams. We just have to limit the mistakes.”
The Senators (2-3; 1-2 Region AAA) committed two turnovers in the first quarter, one on a botched handoff by Morgan quarterback Austin Smitherman, and the other a fumble on their own 26-yard line that led to a Bessemer touchdown run by Justin Gray.
On Morgan’s next possession, the Senators drove deep into Bessemer territory, the drive keyed by a 58-yard run off right tackle by Parker Hughes. But after converting a fourth and long to keep the drive going, the Senators’ Austin Anderson fumbled on the Bessemer 2-yard line to kill the drive.
“That’s been the story of the first half of the season,” King said. “We mount these humongous drives, pounding the football, getting close and then something bad happens. Unfortunately tonight it was turnovers.”
Bessemer (5-0; 4-0 Region AAA) had a few turnovers of their own, though, and the Senators took advantage to draw even with the Rebels. After the Rebels fumbled on their own 46-yard line, Morgan went on a four-minute drive capped by 21-yard touchdown scamper by Hughes. McCain Levins added the PAT to tie the score, 7-7.
The Rebels threatened again late in the first half, driving to the Senators’ 5-yard line, but on third and goal, Ethen Fancher shot the gap and sacked Bessemer’s Devon Johnson for a 10-yard loss, forcing the Rebels to try a field goal that sailed wide right.
Bessemer took the lead for good coming out of the half on its initial drive, taking the ball down the field with Gray scoring his second touchdown, this one from 5 yards out. Morgan answered with another Hughes touchdown run from 10 yards out, but Levins missed the PAT to put the Senators behind 14-13.
Bessemer added another score midway through the third on a fourth down pass from Johnson to Drake Garrett, but another Smitherman interception set up Bessemer’s final touchdown on a Marcus McAfee run from 13 yards out. Morgan added a late touchdown on a Smitherman-to-Anderson 14-yard pass play with Anderson making the diving catch as time expired.
“We got our butts whipped up here last year and we knew Brian would have those kids ready,” said Bessemer head coach Josh Wright. “We couldn’t never find an answer to stop them and they were whipping us up front on both sides of the ball. Heck, they’re three points away from playing for the state championship (last year). I know they think it’s a down season for Morgan, but Brian is doing a heck of a job with those kids.”
Morgan travels to East Memorial next week while Bessemer is on the road at Tuscaloosa Academy. Both games are slated to kickoff at 7 p.m.