Morgan ends season in OT
SELMA — Morgan Academy’s storybook football season came to an abrupt end Friday night.
The Senators had hoped to add a couple of chapters, but defending AISA Class AAA champion Pike Liberal will be working on a sequel after handing Morgan a 6-3 overtime loss in the semifinals.
The game ended in a 0-0 tie in regulation play, and the only scoring came in the first overtime. After Lanny Harrison booted a 26-yard field goal for Morgan, Pike Lib’s Nick McLaughlin went seven yards on the Patriots’ second play for the winning score.
After 48 minutes of stellar defensive play by both teams, the do-or-die year ended for Morgan on one play.
First-year Senators head coach Brian King said he wasn’t disappointed, but envious.
“I’m not disappointed; nobody thought we would get this far,” said King, whose squad finished 7-5. “What I am is envious. I wish I could be on a team like this, with players who support each other and have tried as hard as they have.
“I wouldn’t trade this team for anything in the world,” he said.
Morgan’s defense brought the Senators to the overtime opportunity. King praised the work of his defensive backfield, including Crawford Traylor, Jody Glover and Joseph Watters. Glover and Watters each had touchdown-saving defensive plays, while Traylor intercepted a fourth-quarter Patriots pass.
Pike Lib used field position and two first-quarter drives to control the first half. In the Wildcat formation, McLaughlin scored from 34 yards on the Patriots’ first drive, but the score was nullified by a holding penalty. In the second drive, Pike Lib reached the Morgan 11-yard line before a fumble by Patriots quarterback Trey Walters was recovered by Senators tackle Taylor Bone.
Morgan’s offense suffered when junior quarterback Austin Smitherman was sandwiched by two Patriot defenders and planted him in the turf with 19 seconds left in the first half. Smitherman suffered a lower back injury.
“This was the first time this year that our quarterback has been banged up that bad,” King said.
In the third quarter, Morgan took possession at the Patriots’ 28 after a fumble recovery coupled with a personal foul. Two plays later, however, Smitherman was picked off by Pike Lib’s McLaughlin and the Patriots drove to the Senators’ 5-yard line.
Morgan’s defense held Pike Lib on three plays inside the 9-yard line, including a third-and-goal pass that was batted down by Glover. Then Tanner Grant missed the 24-yard field goal try.
Morgan’s best offensive strike came three plays later when Smitherman got the handoff in the Wildcat formation and tossed a 48-yard pass to Glover that went to the Senators’ 23. But an errant pitchout in the Senators’ backfield gave the ball back to Pike Lib to open the fourth quarter.