Eric Walker and Brandon Beadle saved the day with two crunch-time tackles on long runs late in the fourth quarter.
Beadle brought down Derrick Harris on a 39-yard run with under two minutes to play and two plays later Walker brought down Penny Reed at the 13-yard line on a play that looked destined for a go-ahead touchdown score.
The Tigers stuffed a third down play from their own 10-yard line as time expired to hold on for the win.
Prior to the goal line stand, Morgan City showed heart in answering the Olympians late fourth quarter score on a 12-play drive of 80 yards with Walker accounting for 29 yards including his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run at the goal line.
MCHS is now 2-1 on the season, equaling the win total from 2010 after just three games.
“We had over 200 yards of penalties, you can’t expect to win a ball game with that being said,” Sarah Reed coach Gavin Lewis said. “There are no moral victories. We were there, it was ours to take, and we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
The option style offense the Olympians employed was tough to defend and gave the Tigers trouble and led to 175 yards rushing.
“We put in a new wrinkle on defense to try and stop (the option),” Nowlin said. “We’ve just got to be more physical on the edges. We had a few guys there to make plays a few times but they just didn’t make the play. A couple times our linebackers got caught on the side when they needed to be scraping over. We’ve got to start fixing these mistakes. We’re a young team, they’re going to make them over and over again before we realize we’ve got to fix them.”
Morgan City junior Devante Gabriel was active on defense and made several crucial tackles to keep the Olympians ground game under control.
“It’s a different look than we normally see, but we just had to do we what we had to do,” Gabriel said.
MCHS got on the board first with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Hoang Ngyuen to Austin Stroud for a 6-0 Tigers lead.
The Tigers went three-and-out on their second drive and the Olympians responded with a five play drive capped off by quarterback Tevin Greensberry on a three yard run up the middle and the senior completed a pass on the two-point conversion for an 8-6 SRHS lead.
The Tigers offense sputtered again with a three-and-out on the next drive and, on the punt attempt, Stroud was under heavy pressure and has short punt went straight to Edward Blount who took it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 16-6 SRHS lead after a run by Jerome Williams for a two-point conversion.
“Offensively, I thought we came out – outside of the touchdown that we threw early on the first drive — we came out a fault,” Nowlin said. “I don’t think we came out with the right mindset on the offensive side of the football. When we were up and we were rolling we were hard to stop. That’s something we need to keep up. We lost a tight end tonight so that limited some of what we could do.”
The Stroud-Ngyuen connection came through again on the next drive, this time for 44 yards with Stroud cutting back and speeding away from the defense to pull the Tigers within three trailing 16-13.
The Tigers took the lead with under a minute left in the first half after recovering a fumble at the 5-yard line and Eric Walker punched it in on the first play.
Walker looked like he might put the game out of reach in the third quarter with a 13 yard touchdown run that saw the shifty back weave in and out of the Olympians defense untouched for a 26-16 Tigers lead.
Walker finished with 105 yards on 26 carries for two touchdowns and Ngyuen was 7-for-14 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
“I can’t say enough about our quarterback,” Nowlin said. “He keeps battling and the offensive line, in the first half, we couldn’t move the ball in the run game to save our lives. In the second half we finally got it going a little bit, even in our double tight and some of our spread stuff, which is something that we’ve challenged them to do.”
Sarah Reed showed up with 21 players in pads, which is less than half the number of suited up Morgan City players across the sideline, but the Olympians played hard and didn’t show any signs of giving up.
“We condition as much as anybody in the state,” Lewis said. “When you have 21 kids, every kid going every way, it kind of puts you in a position no matter how much conditioning you do kids are going to get tired. Being tired is not an excuse. That’s just the hand we’re dealt, we’re in New Orleans with a multitude of schools, but that’s no excuse.”
The Olympians rallied with an 11-play drive that Greensberry finished with a one-yard touchdown run for cut the MCHS lead to 26-22.
The Sarah Reed defense stopped MCHS on 4th-and-2 at midfield and marched 57 yards to take the lead on Reed run for 13 yards to five the Olympians a 28-26 lead before MCHS was able to respond and hold on with a nice defensive stance as time expired.
Morgan City will host (1-2) Jeanerette at Tiger Stadium 7 p.m. Friday.