Senators shut out Bessemer

Published 2:49 am Saturday, October 10, 2009

SELMA — Reeling after three straight road losses, Morgan Academy coach Brian King admitted Friday he wasn’t feeling too good about going up against No. 6-ranked Bessemer.

He could afford to be less concerned after the game. His Senators won their biggest game of the season, blanking Class AAA Region 2 opponent Bessemer 21-0.

With a defense that played inspired football and an offense that managed to control the tempo, Morgan kept Bessemer back on its heels after the pregame rain showers made the field slippery.

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“For the seniors on this team,” King said, “this is their biggest win. We really needed that (victory); three losses in a row hurts bad.”

Friday’s game was not just a victory — Bessemer was a larger, quicker and more experienced team, King said. Bessemer, however, fell behind 14-0 and went to its passing game.

But Morgan’s defense shut down the Bessemer aerial attack, picking off two important passes.

The first one was on a flair pass that set up Joseph Watters’ touchdown with 9:16 to play in the first quarter. The second — by Jody Glover defending a fade route in the end zone at 7:27 of the second quarter — preserved the 14-0 halftime lead.

“This is the first shutout of the season for us,” King said, praising his team’s defensive effort. Bessemer “had us in size and speed, but our guys just played their hearts out.”

The Senators used their ground game to their advantage, controlling the clock and slogging through the mud. Passing apparently wasn’t a necessary option.

“We were not really thinking pass,” King said. “We were going to use whatever worked best, and our rushing offense had paid off for us.”

Morgan Academy’s second touchdown of the game came on quarterback Austin Smitherman’s 4-yard scamper around right end with 4:57 left in the first quarter.

Smitherman also put the finishing touches on the shutout on the first play of the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound junior faked a handoff over right tackle that pulled the Bessemer defense out of position, and he turned the corner around left end for daylight.

After outrunning two defensive backs, Smitherman found paydirt 89 yards later.

“It felt good,” said Smitherman, who pulled up with a limp after the run. “It’s just the ankle.”

King said Smitherman ankle “is bruised a little.”

“That makes no sense,” King kidded after the game. “How does he run that fast?”

The win inside Class AAA Region 2 sets Morgan in the hunt for the top spot in the playoffs.

“That’s the first of three,” said King, whose Senators (3-3) go to East Memorial on Thursday. “We’ve been talking all week about how we haven’t been able to finish the games. It all clicked this evening.”