Morgan County football is just fine.
Since March, the Cougars have worked to recover from devasting tornadoes that inflicted heavy damage in West Liberty, including the high school football field and training facilities.
In Friday’s season opener, however, Morgan County rolled out its familiar ground attack and beat Boyd County 38-22 at Tom Scott Field.
“Our kids have been through a lot,” Cougars coach Brian Turner said. “I’m tickled to get the first win. There’s been a ton of media attention because of our situation, which is good, but it can be a little distracting.”
Morgan County, pumped up about recent news that its home field will be ready to host Estill County next week, burst out of the starting gate with a 30-point first half.
In short, the Cougars picked up where they left off after returning most of their starters from an 8-3 team.
The double-wing offense is simple in its approach. Mostly, the quarterback flips the ball to a running back and everybody else puts a block on somebody.
Morgan County rushed for 302 yards, including 200 in the first half while building a 30-7 lead.
“They are a machine,” first-year Boyd County coach Ray Brooks said. “They do what they do. Morgan County is a class act, too, just like coach Turner.
The Cougars’ head coach is also the offensive line coach. Morgan County isn’t big up front, but consistently gets the job done.
“For their size, they play with a lot of pride and discipline,” Turner said. “It’s a tough guy thing. A lot of people hate this offense, but for the talent and ability we have, it fits.”
Junior wingback Kody Thornberry carried for 153 yards and a touchdown. Walker Crase, another wingback, scored three TDs and a couple of two-point conversions, while fullback Jordan Whitt finished with 98 yards on the ground.
“Those guys all complement each other,” Turner said. “Kody can slash and dash. He’s exciting every time he touches the ball. When Jordan gets opportunities to carry the ball, he makes the most out of them.”
Whitt broke through the middle for a 72-yard gain to set up the game’s first score. Thornsberry went 7 yards for a TD on the next play, and Crase tacked on a two-point carry.
Quarterback Larrin Collins’ 1-yard sneak and another Crase conversion run made it 16-0 midway through the second quarter.
Boyd County, coming off a season-opening win over Shelby Valley, answered with a six-play scoring drive highlighted by Reid Dearfield’s 38-yard scamper down the sideline. On third-and-seven, quarterback Billy McCoy took the snap, raised up and hit Dylan Harris for an 8-yard TD. Harris banged off a defender at the goal line.
Morgan County quickly regained the momentum on Crase’s 80-yard kickoff return to Boyd County’s 10. Crase scored his first touchdown of the night from 1 yard out, then the Cougars’ offense was back in business after its defense recovered a Boyd County fumble at the Cougars’ 39.
On the next play, Collins connected with Thornsberry for 39 yards on Morgan County’s only completion in three pass attempts. That set up Crase’s 3-yard scoring run with 32 seconds left in the half.
Boyd County, playing without three starters due to one-game suspensions, showed its competitive fire by opening the second half with a 63-yard scoring drive in 13 plays. On fourth-and-nine at Morgan County’s 10, Harris took a misdirection handoff and split two defenders at the line of scrimmage on his way to the end zone.
“Hats off to Boyd County,” Turner said. “In the second half, we thought if we could get one more (score), maybe we could get them to lay down. But they took the ball right down the field and scored.”
Dearfield rushed for 105 yards on 12 carries to lead the Lions, who gained 225 on the ground. Harris had 62 and Gaje Ayres 52, including a 4-yard TD.
“In the third quarter, we started looking like a team that understood what we wanted to do offensively,” Brooks said. “We have a new coach, a new offense and a new defense. It takes time to learn. I’m proud of the effort.”
Sophomore Cade Isaacs took over at quarterback in the second half for McCoy, who hurt a leg in the season opener.
Morgan County football is just fine.
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