At one point, the Tigers led 41-14 against Franklin but a fourth quarter surge by the Hornets made things interesting.
MCHS held on to win 48-40 with Franklin’s last touchdown coming as time expired.
A one-yard touchdown run by Joseph “Turtle” Jones with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter would end up being the winning score for the Tigers.
Fans that have kept track of Morgan City this season should be familiar with the 6-foot-1, 330 pound sophomore they call Turtle. He’s the key to the power formation that bears his nickname and has played a big part in the Tigers success running the football.
“It felt good, it felt real good,” Jones said of the touchdown out his own formation. “I get to headhunt and block (out of the formation). I really like it.”
The play has been in place for much of the season and the timing was right on Friday to give the sophomore a shot at the end zone.
“He’s been hounding me about it for a while, we’ve had it ever since we put the (Turtle) package in,” Nowlin said. “I told him if we get a chance to do it in fourth and one or goal line, it’s a perfect situation. We had to give a dog a bone. I told him if he didn’t get it in, he wouldn’t get it again. … You have to reward the guys that take body shots and give their bodies up for each other. He’s been doing that for his teammates every week. He’s only a sophomore and he’s only going to continue to get better on both sides of the ball.”
The Hornets scored on a 32-yard pass from Michael Poledore to Zach Stewart to cut the lead to 48-28 with 7 minutes, 23 seconds to play and they later got within two scores on a Reheem Robertson run from four yards out.
The Tigers punted from midfield to put Franklin at its 16 yard line with 3:39 remaining but the Hornets seemed to lack urgency on a 16-play drive that ended with Poledore hitting Brennan Robinson on a 29-yard pass as time expired.
Hoang Ngyuen had one of his best games of the season going 9-for-13 for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
Austin Stroud hauled in two scoring passes and Tyrin Watts scored on a 25-yard pass that Ngyuen tossed to the senior in stride allowing Watts to score untouched.
“(Ngyuen) came out tonight throwing the ball very, very well,” Nowlin said. “We had some receivers making some big plays. Austin went out and had a great game after coming back from an injury. We’ve got to work to keep him healthy; he’s a game changer. Tyrin Watts is a kid that’s a first year player and done some really, really good things. He came out late and is still picking up what we’re doing.”
Part of the comeback by Franklin was due to backups coming into the game, which seemed to throw off the Tigers momentum. Nowlin accepted the blame, but had his reasons.
“I probably put some of my reserves in a little too early,” Nowlin said. “But Hoang, they were bringing a lot of heat. He took a few shots trying to throw the ball. Right now, he’s playing so well you don’t want to waste a kid and let your backups come in.”
Jalen Jones came up with two big plays covering onside kicks by Franklin, giving the Tigers a chance to take time off the clock and avoid a Hornets comeback.
“He’s a freshman, played very, very well,” Nowlin said. “Recovered two onside kicks. He’s a kid we need to have to keep on improving.”
The second half wasn’t pretty for MCHS, but they pulled off the victory and showed signs of a team that can compete for a playoff spot.
“The offensive line made some plays for us up front,” Nowlin said. “Defense, early, played well. We backed them up a good bit, got us the ball a good bit. But, we seem to have a tendency to keep things close. We don’t know how to close people out like we should. That’s more of a learning process. We took a step in the right direction tonight, we just need to keep progressing.”