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Bulldogs fall at Putnam in historic game

September 18, 2020 - 12:37
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History was made last Friday in Eatonton.

The Putnam County football team topped Morgan County in overtime, 5-2. It marked the first time that score has been seen in Georgia high school football since Oct. 21, 1907, when Locust Grove Institute won a game by the same score, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association online database.

Including Friday, there have only been 16 instances where Georgia teams won while scoring 5 points since 1912 – the year when touchdowns went from being worth 5 points to 6.

In addition to the unique score, the game featured 10 combined turnovers.

Bulldogs head coach Bill Malone was asked earlier this week whether he had previously coached in such a wild game before. The veteran coach, who has been at Morgan since the early 1990s, struggled to think of any game that mirrored last week’s contest.

“I have never seen anything like Friday night,” Malone said. “I was talking to my wife about it [Sunday] night trying to remember a game. I can remember, oddly enough, we've had a four-turnover game against Putnam County before and we've had a six-turnover game in a playoff game years and years ago back in the '90s.”

Malone said he’d never seen a game with so many turnovers. He also had never seen a game that featured two safeties.

The wild elements of the game started on Morgan’s first drive.

Pratt Spivey started at quarterback for the Bulldogs. He was picked off on Morgan’s opening possession, which gave Putnam the ball at Morgan’s 30-yard line. A series of penalties pushed Putnam back, though, and the War Eagles punted the ball to inside the 1-yard line.

The Bulldogs’ next possession saw a high snap go out of the end zone to give Putnam a safety and a 2-0 lead at the 9:36 mark of the first quarter.

The teams then traded punts before Cal Camp, the Bulldogs’ second quarterback to see the field, threw a pick at the goal line to end what had been a promising drive. The next time out, Spivey returned to the field and threw an interception.

Morgan’s next drive saw Kobridgette Lumpkin score on a 70-yard touchdown catch but a holding penalty wiped it off the board.

Lumpkin fumbled a couple of drives later. Then, Camp threw an interception two drives afterward before Lumpkin fumbled on the next possession.

The Morgan defense kept holding back the Putnam offense, though, and even notched a fumble recovery by Jacob Pritchett.

Another high snap led to a Morgan fumble a couple of drives later. A bad snap into the end zone by Putnam on one of its punt attempts gave Morgan the tying score it needed via a safety. That happened with 5:24 left in regulation.

The teams traded punts again before Morgan’s Elijah Reynolds secured an interception with just over 30 seconds remaining.

The game went to overtime and Morgan got first possession at Putnam’s 15-yard line. The Bulldogs put together a couple of plays to move the ball but after a pass attempt ricocheted off Ashton Cooper, a War Eagle defender picked it off to end the drive.

The War Eagles got an overtime possession at the 15-yard line, too. Morgan forced a fourth down play, which was when Putnam booted a 31-yard kick to win the game.

Morgan struggled running the ball and, at times, protecting its three quarterbacks (D.J. Smith checked into the game a few times). Malone said a few linemen had to quarantine last week, which did the Bulldogs no favors.

“We had two or three guys that were out of position because of quarantine. That caused us to do some shuffling on our starting offensive line,” Malone said. “Putnam's guys played pretty aggressive. I thought their scheme was pretty good. They mixed their odd and even fronts up and that was kind of a surprise to us - we were expecting more of a 4-3. But as far as pass protecting, I wasn't as disappointed in pass pro as I was surprised that we did not open up bigger holes for our run game.”

When asked whether the three quarterbacks will rotate in and out of the game again moving forward, Malone had a blunt response.

“No, you're not going to see a rotation and I'll just leave it at that,” Malone said.

As for his defense, Malone left the game feeling good. The defense allowed only 37 yards passing and 21 yards rushing and forced nine three-and-outs.

Reynolds finished the game with eight total tackles and the interception. Denver Laughlin registered seven tackles, one of which was for a loss, and one quarterback pressure.

Those players – and every level of the defense – impressed Malone.

“We had a number of kids around the ball,” Malone said. “There were very few times where it was just a solo tackle – it was a couple or three guys hitting at once. ... We've still got to work on keeping those offensive tackles off of our linebackers; there were a few times they came off scot-free. I think our secondary, in particular, (looked good) when you look at Elijah Reynolds and Denver Laughlin coming up and making big plays, big hit plays, too. I thought our linebackers were where they needed to be and hit the reads like they were supposed to and were in the right spots.”

With the game featuring so many swings in control, Malone said he was pleased by how the defense responded to the times where it had to get stop after stop. He credited defensive coordinator Brett Bell and defensive coaches Carter Shultz, Mike Holdren and Max Gaubert for helping the defenders stay focused and motivated.

The Bulldogs are on the road this Friday. They will take on Monroe Area, a former Region 8-AAA rival.

Malone said it will take his team performing well in three key areas in order to get the team’s first win.

“No. 1, zero turnovers. We can't turn the ball over,” Malone said. “Secondly, we better have some offensive success. We need it early and we need it often. Thirdly, our defense needs to play with the same amount of aggression and with good eyes that we played with this past Friday night. If we can do those three things, I think that we can go over there and give them more than a game.”