By GEOFF STOUTE
While Morgan City High School had not competed against another team in three weeks heading into Friday’s contest with Jeanerette, that didn’t stop the Tigers from opening the season with a bang as the Tigers snapped a 23-game losing streak dating back to the 2018 season.
Two rushing touchdowns by Jaquan Gray and a big-time stop by defender Leonardo Torres late in the fourth quarter helped the Tigers win their season opener 12-6 Friday in Morgan City.
The win was the first for Morgan City since a 60-6 victory at home against North Central on Sept. 14, 2018. Since then, Morgan City dropped 23 straight games until Friday night.
“Hats off to our kids, the kids that have stuck through this program,” Morgan City Coach Chris Stroud said.
He said the Tigers (1-0) have around 18 players who receive most the playing time, and he said they are a “resilient” group who keeps putting in work despite the negativity they hear.
“They got what they deserved, a long time coming,” Stroud said. “Our coaching staff did a great job. We made lots of mistakes, but it was our first game. We didn’t play a jamboree. We didn’t play a first game, so we expected some mistakes. We just got to clean them up, but we’ll take the win for sure.”
While Morgan City’s jamboree and first game of the season against Berwick were canceled due to Hurricane Ida and its effects, Morgan City never trailed in its season opener Friday. The Tigers took a 6-0 advantage with 6:49 remaining in the first half when Gray scored on a 1-yard run. The touchdown was set up by an electric 25-yard run by quarterback Charlie Wells in which he reversed course before heading through the Jeanerette defense down to the 1-yard line.
The Tigers added to their lead in the fourth quarter when Gray scored again, this time on a 7-yard run with 8:42 remaining for a 12-0 lead.
However, from that point, things got interesting as Jeanerette (0-2) scored two plays into its next drive to cut the score to 12-6.
After Julius Hawkins was stopped for a 3-yard loss on first down, quarterback Zyon Colar connected with his receiver, Javin Eugene on a short pass. Eugene slipped passed a Morgan City defender before taking the reception to the end zone for an 81-yard touchdown reception with 7:04 left.
With Morgan City ahead 12-6, the homestanding Tigers attempted to secure the win on its next possession. However, the Tigers were stopped on fourth down at the Jeanerette 23, and the visitor received possession with 3:13 remaining.
Jeanerette moved the ball near the Morgan City redzone, but on fourth down with five yards to go for a first down, Colar was stopped after a 3-yard gain by Torres. The defensive stand allowed the Tigers to regain possession, and they drained the clock.
“Defense played lights out, man,” Stroud said. “Such great effort, and such great effort with so many kids playing (on) both sides of the ball. We had some tired kids out there, and they learned to win the game in the fourth quarter. That’s important.”
Morgan City’s defense limited Jeanerette to 184 yards of offense (175 passing and nine rushing).
Offensively, Morgan City had 205 yards of offense (134 rushing and 71 passing).
Wells led the squad with 18 carries for 75 yards, while he completed 3 of 7 passes for 71 yards with one interception.
Gray added 14 carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
James Richardson was Morgan City’s top receiver with two catches for 58 yards.
For Jeanerette, Colar completed 11 of 27 passes for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Eugene was his leading receiver with four catches for 100 yards and a score.
Both teams were plagued by penalties, especially in the first quarter, as they combined for 120 yards in penalties in the initial period. Morgan City finished the game with 100 penalty yards, while Jeanerette had 95.
Morgan City will return to action Friday when it hosts Covenant Christian, while Jeanerette will host Grand Lake.
First Downs 13 6
Rushing Yards 134 9
Passing Yards 71 175
Total Yards 205 184
C-A-I 7-3-1 27-11-1
Morgan City: Jaquan Gray 1-yard run. (Kick failed) 6:14.
Morgan City: Gray 7-yard run. (Kick failed) 8:42.
Jeanerette: Zyon Colar 81-yard pass to Javin Eugene. (Pass failed) 7:24.
Charlie Wells, 18-75; Jaquan Gray, 14-57, 2 TDs; James Richardson, 5-25; Leonardo Torres, 1-3; Bryson Booty, 1-(-3); Jayvyn Raymond, 1-(-5); and Team, 5-(-18).
Charlie Wells, 3-7-1, 71 yards.
James Richardson, 2-58; Logan Linston, 1-13.
Zyon Colar, 6-16; Ja’Vyntri Harris, 7-13; No. 19, 3-(-1); Julius Hawkins: 2-(-5); Team, 2-(-14).
Zyon Colar, 11-27-1, 175 yards, 1 TD.
Javin Eugene, 4-100, 1 TD; Kelby Guillory, 3-48; Traville Fredrick, 3-17; No. 19, 1-10.