Open and shutout

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 23, 2006

Faith Academy makes light work of ailing Morgan Academy

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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Morgan Academy coach Robert Gartman earlier this week assessed Faith Academy as a bigger, faster and stronger team.

He wasn’t overestimating.

The Rams (4-1, 4-0 AAA Region 1) didn’t have a touchdown shorter than 20 yards and shut out the Senators 27-0 Friday night.

Faith jumped out to a three-touchdown lead in the first half, two of the scores coming on runs of 50-plus yards.

The Senators (3-2, 2-2) were forced to punt on four of their six first-half possessions and turned the ball over on another.

“We just ran into an outstanding football team,” said Morgan coach Robert Gartman. “Coach (Robby) James did a great job of preparing them to play. We got beat for a lot of big gains. Even when we had people there, we couldn’t make the plays. We’ve got to get better and work harder and see what we can do next week.”

The Rams first got on the board with a 65-yard touchdown run from tailback Warren Collier on the only play of their third possession. Collier had 131 rushing yards on 12 carries.

With 7:46 left to play in the second quarter, Drake Zimmerman ran in a touchdown from 20 yards out. Quarterback T.J. Walker set the play up by hitting Zimmerman with a 28-yard on the previous play.

About a minute and a half later, the Rams once again got into the end zone on their first play of the possession. KaDavius Niles scampered up the field, eluding tacklers, and scored a 55-yard touchdown on his only carry of the game.

“I think our speed and our defense got us through the game,” James said. “We’ve been a big-play team all year. We saw that they were slanting their line defensively, so we took advantage of that and got some big runs.”

The Rams committed two fumbles in the first half – both on the same possession – and lost the latter. John Ellis recovered on the Morgan 36-yard line after a Zimmerman bobble, but the Senators were unable to turn the mistake into points.

Morgan fumbled the ball twice on its next-to-last possession of the half. Heath Harrelson, who ran for 66 yards on 15 carries, let go of the second one and Faith’s John David Anderson recovered on the Senators’ 41. The Rams were also unable to capitalize and punted the ball back after a three-and-out.

It didn’t take long for the Rams to start the engines back up after exiting the locker room following halftime.

Their defense forced a three-and-out, and Sidney Madise ran a return back 21 yards to set Faith up with first-and-10 on the Morgan 21.

The very next play, Zimmerman took another pass into the end zone.

Umang Patel blocked the extra point try to hold Faith’s lead at 27-0 with 9:30 left in the third.

Morgan followed that with its longest drive of the night, going 14 plays and 37 yards. But Brad Averitt’s fourth-down pass to Jay Gilmer was nearly intercepted by Niles, who came down with the ball out of bounds.

On its last possession, Morgan got started on its own 6-yard line and Averitt completed a pair of passes to Gilmer to start things off.

Madise effectively ended the game when he picked off a deep pass on the Faith 8.

Patel, Harrelson and Pitt Hughes led Morgan’s defense with five tackles each.

“This place has a lot of tradition, and they know how to win – both the kids and the fans,” James said. “I know they had a lot of guys hurt, but they’re well coached. They’re a fine football team. I was proud of the effort of our guys. I hope that we played with a lot of class. We didn’t come in here trying to embarrass anyone.

“I feel (Morgan) will be right there, and we’ll probably have to play them again.”