MA smashes Lee-Scott

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2004

A week after watching several of his players limp off the field, Robert Gartman had a different view Friday as his Senators ran down Lee-Scott, 31-6.

Gartman’s Morgan Academy Senators (1-1) rallied from last week’s 22-13 loss to Edgewood and scored their first win of the season.

“We improved a good bit over last week,” Gartman said. “Our conditioning got better as the game went along. That definitely was a factor.”

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Conditioning clearly went the way of Morgan junior Josh McAteer. The Senators’ halfback tired down the Lee-Scott defense to rush 18 times for 201 yards, including a 63-yard scoring romp around the right end in the first quarter that put Morgan ahead for good.

McAteer’s score came on the first play from scrimmage after the Senators surrendered a touchdown that gave Lee Scott the early 6-0 lead. Jeremy Smith added the extra point to give Morgan a 7-6 lead.

The Senators’ defense was just as sharp, recording five interceptions – three by cornerback Rhett Rhyne.

Lee-Scott looked ready to pull off the surprise against the defending AISA Class 3A champs. On the Warriors’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Blake Dorman hit Calo Dennis on a 77-yard scoring toss down the Lee-Scott sideline just 1:36 into the game. The 2-point run failed.

After the Senators took their lead, Lee-Scott took it to the Morgan defense, combining a passing game with a running attack.

The Warriors assembled a 17-play drive that took them from their 18-yard line to the Senators’ 8. But the drive came to an abrupt halt when Rhett lept high in front of split end Jeff McClure in the right corner of the end zone for his first pick.

“Our good defense was a surprise,” Gartman said, “considering we were thrown on for 340 yards last week.”

Morgan wasted little time capitalizing on the turnover. Just five plays into their ensuing drive, the Senators stretched their lead to 14-6 when Smith sailed a pass to senior receiver Eric Pilcher, who beat a defender and hauled in the toss in front of the Warriors’ bench at the Lee-Scott 20. From there Pilcher outran the defense en route to a 55-yard scoring play with 8:18 left in the opening period. Smith added the PAT.

After giving up a bounty of rushing yardage early, the Senators’ defensive line tightened midway through the second quarter. Morgan began pressuring Dorman, with sophomore Donnie Hogg getting to the Lee-Scott signal-caller for an 8-yard loss. Along with his sack, Hogg also had six tackles for the game.

Lee-Scott had a final opportunity to score in the second quarter, but Rhyne jumped in front of a receiver for his second interception of the night.

Rhyne’s third pick of the night came late in the third quarter and ended another lengthy Lee-Scott drive. The Senators were again able to take advantage of the turnover, with Smith kicking a 30-yard field goal to give Morgan a 17-6 lead with 8:49 left in the game.

Senior rookie defensive back Reid Buster helped out the Senators’ defense when he picked off a pass and returned it to the Lee-Scott 35. While the Senators were unable to score on their next possession, the Morgan secondary once again shined, with Ben Callaway knocking down another pass on fourth down.

Two plays later, Buster broke free through the middle of the Lee-Scott defense for an 18-yard scoring run. Smith added the PAT to make it 24-6.

Buster’s score was set up by McAteer’s 24-yard gallop off right tackle to the Lee-Scott 18.

Morgan’s final interception came when Buster slipped to the outside and beat the Lee-Scott receiver to the ball in front of the Morgan sideline. Buster returned his second pick 27 yards to the Warriors’ 11.

Two plays later, halfback C.J. Searcy scored on a 14-yard run up the middle. Smith added the PAT for a 31-6 Morgan lead.

The Senators host Glenwood next Friday before opening their regional schedule Sept. 17 against Faith Academy.

“This win’s going to give us a lot of momentum,” Gartman said. “This took a little sting out of last week.”