The Morgan City High School Tigers defeated the visiting Berwick High School Panthers, 28-0, Friday in a game highlighted by big plays and turnovers by both teams.
After Morgan City (1-0) won the opening coin toss and elected to defer, Berwick went three and out on their first possession, punted, and Morgan City took over on the Berwick 29.
Tigers running back Erik Walker carried the load on the first possession, helping his squad move the ball from the Berwick 29 to eventually score a touchdown, making the score 7-0 after place kicker Sergize Flores missed the extra point but was allowed a second attempt due to a Berwick off-sides penalty.
On the ensuing kickoff, Flores kicked off to Panthers kicker returner Drew Landry, who lost the ball on the 22-yard line but was called down, allowing Berwick (0-1) to retain possession.
But Morgan City soon gained possession, as two plays later Keyvon Marsh intercepted the ball, giving the Tigers possession on the Berwick 23 yard line.
But the Berwick defense held and recovered a fumble by Walker and took possession on the Tigers’ 43 yard line.
But Berwick was stifled by the Tigers defense and forced to punt.
After Morgan City took over at its own 13, it had what turned out to be the biggest offensive play of the game as quarterback Hoang Nguyen handed off to Jalen Jones as he came across the backfield. Jones then took the ball 87 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Morgan City lead after Flores converted the extra point.
On the next possession, Berwick’s offense showed signs of life as Panthers quarterback Bobby Boudreaux first connected on a 12 yard pass, then a 19 yard pass, both to Landry. The plays quickly moved the ball to midfield. The second play ended in a crushing hit by Marsh, and Berwick punted four plays later following three consecutive incompletions.
Later in the second quarter, Morgan City drove into field goal range, but Flores missed, giving Berwick the ball at its own 19 yard line.
But on the next play, Boudreaux was intercepted by Jalen Jones, who returned the ball to the 5 yard line.
The first half ended with Morgan City’s Nguyen connecting with Demarcus Coleman in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left to make the score 21-0 at the half.
But it could have been worse as Morgan City’s Travion Jones caught a 40 yard pass but fumbled in the end zone, resulting in a touchback after a Berwick player accidentally knocked the ball out of bounds during the resulting scramble.
The Tigers took the third-quarter kickoff and set up shop on its own 34 yard line.
Morgan City ran off five consecutive first downs before scoring two plays later as Jacolbi Francois blasted into the end zone on a five- yard run to make the score 28-0 in favor of the Tigers.
Through the fourth quarter, Berwick’s offense did move the ball at times but could never get into scoring position as both sides began putting in their reserves.
Morgan City coach Brandon Nowlin said he was happy with the effort his team showed throughout the game, though there were aspects for improvement, such as penalties, play execution and avoiding turnovers.
“As opponents improve week after week, we also have to show improvement and shore up mistakes,” he said. “But I was excited for players like Jalen Jones, who had a very good game when we needed him to step up.”
The coach also said he was happy to see great improvement in his offense, adding the team could expect good things to happen if they continued to work hard and improve.
“There were not a lot of wins here the last several years,” Nowlin said, “but that should change if we continue to work hard.”
On the other side of the field, Berwick coach Craig Brodie Sr. said his team needed to keep working hard and find consistency on the field.
“We need to sustain drives and put points on the board,” he said. “We made some big plays, but we have to finish drives. We did not expect some of what they threw at us, but we adjusted. Looking at last year’s game, we played much better — we just need to start translating that into wins.”
Both teams will return to action Friday with home games, Berwick will host Central Catholic, while Morgan City will host Sarah Reed.