Senators overcome deficit to defeat Tuscaloosa

Published 12:36 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

Morgan Academy’s Sam Brackin runs the ball during Friday night’s win over Tuscaloosa Academy.  --Dennis Palmer

Morgan Academy’s Sam Brackin runs the ball during Friday night’s win over Tuscaloosa Academy. –Dennis Palmer

Coming off a tough loss to Marengo Academy, first year Senators’ head coach Josh Thacker challenged his team before their matchup with the visiting Tuscaloosa Academy Knights to play with all their heart, and they responded by coming from behind at the half to beat Tuscaloosa, 42-30.

The Senators (2-1) ground down the Knights (0-2) with a running game that racked up nearly 400 yards on 55 attempts, with junior Sam Brackin leading the charge with 163-yards and 4 TDs.

“We ran Brackin, we ran Ed Williams, we ran Brayton Brown — all three of those guys had super nights, they’re super backs and that was part of the plan tonight was get the ball in your playmakers hands,” Thacker said. “When the game is on the line, you want your horses running.”

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The Knights tasted the end zone first early in the first quarter when Jaelon Cheatum broke through the line and rambled down the left sideline for a 43-yard TD. Trey Finison added the PAT to give Tuscaloosa a 7-0 lead.

The Senators responded later in the quarter after the Knights had to punt from deep in their own territory. Brackin made a nice return to set the Senators up in Tuscaloosa territory. Morgan quarterback Gunnar Henderson capped the drive with an 18-yard keeper to pull the Senators to within one.

The Knights scored again on another Cheatum run, but Brown returned the ensuing kickoff back to the Senators’ 41-yard line. Henderson, who had 110-yards on the night, called his own number around left end and raced to the Tuscaloosa 10-yard line. Fullback John Tyler Fisher capped the short drive with a TD, followed by a 2-point conversion pass from Henderson to Landon Davis, to tie the score at 14.

The Knights added another TD with Morgan responding with one of their own to take the lead, 21-20.

The Knights added a field goal to close the half with a 23-21 lead.

Coming out of the half, Thacker said he knew his boys could run the ball on Tuscaloosa so they made very few adjustments, but it took until the fourth quarter for the Senators to take charge.

With 6:51 remaining, and down 30-21, Brackin pulled the Senators to within three with a run off right tackle. He then added the PAT to make it 30-28 Tuscaloosa.

Perhaps the play of the game came on the next possession when Peyton Egbert intercepted a Brook Brannon pass on the Morgan 40-yard line.

“Those guys from TA can absolutely fly, and we gave up a long pass on third and long that was over Peyton’s head. And Peyton looked at me and said ‘coach I can get this done, don’t take me out,’” Thacker said.

“We’d been rotating cornerbacks all night and Payton comes up with a huge interception for us. There’s no way you can take the limelight from him, he’s a great football player.”

The pick energized the Senators, who responded by marching 60-yards for a TD with Brackin putting the Senators ahead for good with a 23-yard touchdown run. Brackin capped the scoring with another TD with less than a minute to play.

Fisher had 70-yards rushing on the night, with Brown adding 29-yards and Ed Williams, 19-yards. Sam Plummer caught one pass for 41-yards.

Caleb Pitts led the defense with five tackles, with Fisher and Plummer adding four each. Fisher also had an interception.

Morgan travels to Monroe next week for a key region matchup.