Morgan loss puts Eagles on road in playoff opener

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2005

After giving up a blocked field goal for a touchdown early in the first quarter, Morgan Academy rolled off 28 straight points to capture the Class AAA West area championship with a 28-14 victory at Fort Dale Academy Friday night.

With the win, Morgan will host its first-round game in two weeks, while Fort Dale will be on the road as the third seed out of the area. The Eagles will face No. 5 Edgewood, but that's after it travels to Butler next week to face fourth-ranked Patrician in their regular season finale.

&#8220We just got whipped tonight,” Fort Dale coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley said. &#8220They whipped us along the line, in the secondary, in the backfieldŠis there anything I left out?”

The third-ranked Senators (8-1) held the Eagles' offense at bay most of the night, while taking advantage of three big mistakes and turning them into touchdowns.

With the score tied at 7-7 early in the second quarter, Morgan Academy defender Ben Callaway stepped in front of a Casey Weston pass attempt and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown to give the Senators the lead for good.

Morgan Academy added to its lead almost six minutes later when Josh McAteer scored his first of two touchdowns on the night with a 3-yard burst. The Senators managed to score so quickly because of a costly Fort Dale fumble on its own 36 yard line.

McAteer added to the Senators' lead with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter with a 19-yard jog into the end zone to cap a two-play, 24-yard drive. Fort Dale committed its third turnover of the night by fumbling on its own 24 yard line.

&#8220You can't give the ball to a good team like Morgan that deep on your side of the field and expect to hold them out,” Sampley said. &#8220But if you take those turnovers away, it's a different ballgame.”

Still that would not have solved Fort Dale's problems on offense.

The Eagles lost starting tailback Tim James after its second offensive series. James had been suffering from a hip pointer that he suffered last week at Cottage Hill, and it seemed to flare up again Friday.

Fort Dale managed just 141 yards of total offense with 44 of those yards coming on one play. Blake Mullins found daylight against Morgan Academy's second-string defense late in the fourth quarter and rumbled 44 yards for a touchdown to draw the Eagles within two scores of Morgan.

Fort Dale finished with just six first downs for the game and all but two were against Morgan's second-string defense.

&#8220Our game plan coming in was to get our hands on their defensive line and push them back. I don't think we've touched them yet. We were bad on offense tonight, real bad.”

Fort Dale broke out to a 7-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter when Blake Conway blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by Morgan's Jeremy Smith. Weston scooped up the loose ball and raced 75 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown.

&#8220We played real well except for about three or four plays, including that blocked kick,” Morgan Academy coach Robert Gartman said. &#8220The kids played real hard, and I think we are where we want to be right now.”

In addition to capturing the area championship Friday, Gartman also notched his 200th career victory.

&#8220We played a real good football team,” he said. &#8220They played us awfully tough, and we knew they would. My hat's off to (Speed) Sampley and his kids.”