Sports round-up 2012.09.05

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There was a point in the fourth quarter Friday night where things weren’t looking good for Morenci football fans.

After the Bulldogs built a 22-0 lead in the third quarter, Lenawee Christian School started to turn the game around. The Cougars scored, Morenci punted, the Cougars scored again and Morenci punted one more time.

Finally, the Bulldogs put together a final scoring drive, then stopped the Cougars to claim a 29-14 season-opening win.

Morenci coach Mike McDowell wasn’t expecting an easy win against Lenawee Christian despite the Cougars’ entry into football just four seasons ago. He knew the squad had some good skill players.

“It worried me knowing that they had big play potential,” McDowell said. “They’re not a bad team and we knew we’d have to be careful.”

Morenci graduate Scott Gallagher is doing a great job as LCS coach, McDowell said, and has a good supporting coaching staff that’s getting the most of the team.

He expects the Cougars to win some games this season.

The Bulldogs stopped Lenawee Christian’s opening drive and took over possession on the Cougars’ 33-yard line. It took 10 plays, aided by a Cougar penalty, but Morenci went on top 7-0 at 5:19.

LCS was forced to punt and Morenci drove 66 yards before fumbling at the one-yard line. Cougar quarterback Grant Hohlbein kept the ball on the next play and raced more than 70 yards on a play that was called back due to a penalty.

After a punt, the Bulldogs drove from the 33-yard line again, but this time Austin Sandusky fielded a pass from Torin Merillat for a 53-yard touchdown play.

With a bad snap on the point-after kick, holder Hayze Wolf passed the ball to Cody Powell for a 15-0 lead.

After the second half kickoff, Morenci survived a series of penalties when freshman Ryan Amos carried for a 30-yard gain. After a pass to Wolf, Powell drove across the goal line for a 22-0 lead.

Coach McDowell had seen enough promise from the Cougars that he was still wary.

“I never felt comfortable even with the 22-0 lead,” he said.

He knew a big play or two could turn things around.

LCS answered by covering 77 yards in six plays to make it 22-6. Morenci punted and the Cougars returned the ball to the Bulldogs’ 30. Hohlbein scored on the first play to make it 22-14.

Morenci used a combination of runs and passes to drive 53 yards, capped by an easy eight-yard jaunt by Powell. Kendrick Taylor kicked his third PAT of the night for a 29-14 lead.

LCS returned the kickoff to Morenci’s 35 with more than three minutes on the clock. After giving up one first down, the Bulldog defense finally held fast for the win.

Coach McDowell saw some good things from his young squad with five sophomores and one freshman starting, but he also saw plenty of weaknesses.

“We don’t sustain blocks yet and we don’t have the quickness needed,” he said. “We probably got fatigued in the second half and didn’t react as well as we should have.”

McDowell praised the job of sophomore quarterback Torin Merillat (7/9, 115 yards), but said his ball carriers need to do a better job of finding the holes and reacting quickly.

LOOKING AHEAD—The Bulldogs entertain  the tough Hudson squad for the home opener at 7 p.m. Thursday, a day early due to the Labor Day holiday.

The Tigers were 41-0 winners over Addison on Friday and will seek their 34th consecutive regular season win at Henry Geisler Field.

McDowell said his squad will suffer from a lack of experience, not from a lack of effort.

After Hudson, the Bulldogs face Whitmore Lake, the only league team other than Sand Creek to lose in the opening week of play. Sand Creek lost in a high-scoring overtime game against Lainsburg.

McDowell sees the Bulldogs as underdogs this season, noting there are many good teams ahead in league play.

“We’ll try to get better every week,” he said, and urges his young players to aim high and play to the best of their ability.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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