If there ever was a game that exemplified the cliché “a tale of two halves,” Morgan City’s matchup with Sarah Reed was it.
After looking absolutely dominant in the first half, jumping out to a 35-0 lead, Morgan City High could do nearly nothing right in the final 24 minutes of play.
Fortunately with such a dominating performance in the first half, the Tigers were able to absorb the offensive letdown in a 35-6 victory against the Sarah Reed Olympians at Tiger Stadium Friday.
That didn’t mean MCHS coach Brandon Nowlin was happy about it, though.
“We didn’t do very good in the second half,” he said. “I told the guys at halftime we can’t worry about the scoreboard. We just got to go out and execute. We started to work some other guys in the game, which is what we need to do to get better as a football team to develop some depth with our younger players but we expect those guys to go in there and execute just like the guys that are in there in front of them. (I’m) very disappointed in our offense in the second half.”
After scoring touchdowns on five of six offensive drives and putting up more than 200 yards of total offense in the first half, the Tigers were held to -37 yards of total offense in the second half.
In that second half, the Tigers had just five offensive players on which they didn’t lose yards and did not record a first down.
Sarah Reed coach Joseph Arnold said a combination of confusion among his squad’s defense in the first half and losing defensive back Dameron Joseph gave them problems.
However, he said in the second half, his squad “settled down” after making halftime adjustments.
While its defense performed better in the second half, Sarah Reed could not capitalize on the Tigers’ offensive woes when it had the ball as Olympians’ wide receivers dropped several passes.
The Olympians’ lone touchdown came with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter when Jay Smith scored on a 13-yard run. Jamar Lewis’ two-point pass failed for the final.
“Offensively, (it was the) same thing,” first-year Sarah Reed coach Joseph Arnold said. “This is week 2 for me. We just can’t move the ball. I have a young quarterback. He’s still trying to grasp the offense. As a matter of fact he made a couple of good reads, we just dropped the ball. He made a lot of good reads. Hey, that’s the way it is. (We’ll) go back Monday and get back to work.”
In the first half, not much went wrong for the Tigers as the squad scored on its first three offensive drives, a Keyvon Marsh 7-yard run with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter, and consecutive touchdown runs of 7 and 5 yards by Eric Walker.
The last two Morgan City touchdowns were manufactured after the Tigers recovered Sarah Reed fumbles. The Olympians fumbled nine times and lost five.
Morgan City’s final touchdown was scored after Daryl Johnson recovered a Sarah Reed fumble at the end of an 18-yard run by Sarah Reed quarterback Justin Hull.
After recovering the loose football, the Tigers needed just five plays to reach the end zone where Morgan City’s Tyrin Watts caught an 18-yard pass in coverage from quarterback Hoang Nguyen.
While things started off well for the Tigers as Watts appeared to return the second-half kickoff nearly the length of the field for a score, the run was called back when the Tigers were penalized for holding at the Sarah Reed 39-yard line.
It’s the second time this year the Tigers have had a touchdown called back because of a penalty.
“We got to be smarter than that,” Nowlin said.
The ensuing offensive drive following the botched kickoff return started a drought for the Tigers as they punted on four of seven second-half possessions. While Nguyen threw an interception on another drive, Marquise Hatcher fumbled on another Morgan City drive and the Tigers ended the game with the ball.
Hatcher’s fourth-quarter fumble recovery gave Sarah Reed the ball in Morgan City territory and led to the Olympians’ lone score.
In the victory, the Tigers totaled just 241 total yards (73 rushing and 168 passing).
Walker and Marsh led Morgan City with 47 yards and 45 yards rushing, respectively. Walker scored two touchdowns and Marsh, one.
Through the air, Nguyen completed 10 of 16 passes for 168 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Jalen Jones turned in another solid performance with four receptions for 125 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Despite the offensive woes in the second half, Nowlin said he was proud of his squad’s overall effort in the ballgame.
“I thought we played hard throughout the entire game. Defense played lights out again,” Nowlin said of the unit, which surrendered 150 yards of total offense, including just 37 on the ground. “They put one in there late when we had a couple backups in there but (I’m) extremely proud of our defense. That’s something that we got to continue to get better on as well, and that’s going to be what helps us throughout this season.”
The Tigers will return to action Thursday when they travel to face Jeanerette. While the game originally was scheduled for Friday, it will be played Thursday, Nowlin said, because of a shortage of officials in the Lafayette area, which supplies Jeanerette with a game crew.