Bulldogs can’t hold early lead, fall to Morton 29-7

Published 1:34 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

MORTON — It was a rough night for the Franklin County Bulldogs in the semifinal round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs Friday night.

First, they lost sophomore tight end/defensive lineman Corbin Smith after he was knocked out of the game on the opening kickoff of the second half. Then Morton scored 22 unanswered points as the Panthers rallied for a 29-7 win over the Bulldogs.

The injury that Smith suffered on the play caused the game to be delayed for at least 30 minutes. Once play resumed, Franklin County fumbled the ball and Morton fell on it. It was quite clear that the momentum shifted to the Panthers and they took advantage of the situation.

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Percy Lewis scored on a two-yard run and completed a pass to Terrance Taylor on the two-point conversion to give Region 6-3A champion Morton a 14-7 lead with 7:50 to go in the third quarter.

Deonte’ Harper gave the Panthers a 21-7 lead on a 13-yard touchdown run with under three minutes to go in the third quarter. A.J. Reeves, who missed an extra point earlier in the game, was good on his second PAT.

But Morton (13-1) was not done putting the ball in the end zone as Jeremy Carter scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run and Tavez Calhoun made it 29-7 with his two-point conversion run just past the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Franklin County, the runner-up from Region 7-3A, had its vaunted running game taken away by a tough Morton defense. Milton Griffin was held to just 44 yards on five carries and Darnell Ford managed only 38 yards on 10 carries.

The Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the game was in the first quarter when Griffin scored on a nine-yard run. Coleman Graves added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 6:16 remaining. Morton cut it to 7-6 when Carter scored on a 5-yard run with 52 seconds to go until halftime.

As a team, the Bulldogs had 132 yards on 36 carries for an average of just over three yards a rush. Only seven times did they move the chains for a first down and ended up with an uncharacteristic 156 yards of total offense.

With the Bulldogs’ running game being held in check, the Panthers forced Edward McGhee to throw the ball. He was just 2-of-10 passing for 24 yards.

Morton, on the other hand, had 13 first downs and 247 yards of total offense. Lewis had 129 yards from scrimmage as he completed 3 of 6 passes for 80 yards, including a 58-yarder to Taylor, and had 18 carries for 49 yards.