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Morgan County gets first win of season

September 17, 2021 - 01:00
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    Ashton Cooper (No. 11) during a scrimmage against Greene County earlier this season. STAFF/Lance McCurley

After being shut out the first two games, Morgan County (1-2) had an offensive explosion on Friday night in rout to a 34-6 victory over Jasper County (0-3).

The Dogs have faced some adversity early in the season when starting quarterback Talan Fuller went down against Putnam County in the season opener. The sophomore suffered a collarbone injury, which really put a dent in the game plans of offensive coordinator Loren Purvis. Still, Morgan County adjusted and turned to senior wide receiver Ashton Cooper to take over under center.

The moment came in the first quarter on Friday night on a 3rd-and-15. Cooper took the snap and rolled around to his right, throwing a 40-yard pass to senior Rogers Clark, who was wide open in the endzone. That was when the Dogs never looked back and dominated on both sides of the ball throughout the rest of the game against Jasper County.

Morgan County head coach Clint Jenkins was proud of the way his team performed against the Canes.

“We faced some really talented and playoff-caliber teams in the first two weeks,” Jenkins said. “We felt like every game the game plans have been solid, but it really just came down to execution. Our guys were very physical on Friday night and we executed the game plan really well. We were also fortunate to see some things come out way against Jasper County.”

Jenkins highlighted that he felt both the offensive and defensive lines made a huge impact in the victory.

“We challenged our kids before the game to win the battle in the trenches,” Jenkins said. “They really responded and showed that they were the more physical team. We also had a little success early, which set the tone for the rest of the game in terms of physicality.”

The Morgan County offense totaled 358 yards of total offense with 285 of them coming on the ground. The Dogs were led by junior Jacere Cooper, who racked up 107 yards on 15 attempts. Jay Dorsey put in some work on the ground as well as he carried the ball 13 times for 85 yards. Cooper had nine carries for 46 yards, while Antavious Elder had 17 yards on four attempts.

“We’ve kind of been three-pronged on offense with Talan out,” Jenkins said. “We did run some of the wildcat formations, but we’re trying to give Ashton more of regular offensive snaps. To be fair to him, he hadn’t taken a lot of quarterback reps until Talan got hurt. So, what we’re trying to do, is hand Ashton a little bit more of the offense every week.”

Morgan County also played freshman Ike O’Neal at quarterback. He finished the game by completing 100 percent of his passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. O’Neal split snaps with Cooper, who played some at wideout as well.

“Ike did a really good job of managing the game,” Jenkins said. “He really understands our offense and can get guys in the right place. He was able to run our offense and do what we asked of him. Credit Coach Purvis for calling a great game. We were able to convert on some fourth downs, which helped the clock keep moving.”

The Morgan County defense also answered the call as well, especially by limiting the Canes to less than 200 yards of total offense. The Dogs were also able to hold Jasper County to only converting two-of-eight thirddown conversions. Additionally, Morgan County won the turnover battle as Key Malone intercepted a pass in the third quarter.

“We did a better job with our eye discipline on defense,” Jenkins said. “We still gave up a long pass on a smash route that we took a wrong angle on and should’ve been contested. But, defensively we played better this game. It all comes down to blocking and tackling, which I felt like we did great at.”

The Dogs will face Lakeside on Friday, Sept. 17 on the road in Evans at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers are 0-3 on the season, but Morgan County isn’t going to take the Class AAAAAA squad lightly.

“We were having a hard time getting out of base camp during the first two weeks of the season,” Jenkins said. “However, our kids have bounced back and hopefully we can take some confidence away from this win.”

The first-year head coach said his team has responded well following the first two losses.

“Losing a quarterback early kind of threw us into a tailspin, but we’re still learning to adapt,” Jenkins added. “Lakeside isn’t going to be any different and we’re going to take this game very seriously. We’ve still got a long way to go until we even come close to reaching the top of the mountain.”