This was not like us. I don't like the way we got manhandled. We hope to see them again soon. —Kovi Christiansen, Morgan coach
Two teams from Morgan went on the road Friday night to face tough foes. One had a region title on the line, one wanted a tough match to tune up for state. Both got into huge holes early. One managed an epic comeback to win, while the other never quite managed to get going and went home with a loss.
While its sisters playing just six miles to the south were able to pull off a stunning win, the Morgan Trojan football team traveled to Judge Friday night to take on the Bulldogs for the inaugural title of the newly reconfigured 3A North region. However, the Bulldogs, behind physical play in the trenches and several big plays, dominated Morgan, 28-14, to win the crown.
The Lady Trojan volleyball team, after falling behind Skyline two games to none, came back to tie the match 2-2, then went on to dominate the fifth game 15-8. Overall, Morgan was led by McKenzie Schenk's nine kills and Kristi Rhead's 30 assists. The Region 10 champs now roll into state, having won 12 of their last 13 matches, and they are one of the favorites to win a state title.
Back at Judge, after the KSL helicopter dropped off the Bulldogs' principal, Rick Bartman, and the game ball, Morgan took the opening kickoff and began a promising drive from its 21-yard line. The Trojans stalled near midfield and were forced to punt.
Judge wasted no time getting on the board, going 69 yards in just seven plays, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Max Barnett. A PAT by kicker Andrew Matthews put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 6:19 left in the first.
Morgan answered in bruising fashion. A penalty on the ensuing kickoff forced Morgan to start from its 7-yard line. Behind a trio of powerful running backs, Ben Holland, Kade Carrigan and Matt Murdock, Morgan put together a nine-minute, 19-play drive that ended with a 10-yard TD run by Murdock. Dallen Calder tied the score at 7-7 with the PAT. "I was proud of that drive," said Morgan coach Kovi Christiansen. "It was like playing defense by playing offense. We are able to keep their "O" off the field when we control the ball like that."
James Cordova, Judge head coach, agreed. "They do what they do so well. You can't prepare for it, so the first time you see it is on Friday night."
That drive was, apparently, all it took for Judge to figure the Trojans out.
After the drive, the two teams traded short drives and punts. Judge then took over at its own 21 with just over three minutes left in the first half. After a largely grind-it-out first half, the Bulldogs struck like lightning on this drive, with a 25-yard run by Barnett followed by a 49-yard touchdown pass from Kaden Elliss to Sean McMinimee and just like that, Judge led 14-7 at the half.
The Bulldogs followed that up by taking the opening kickoff of the second half and putting together their most impressive drive of the evening. Ripping off huge chunks of yards on almost every play, they moved the ball from their 17 to the Trojans' end zone in nine plays. Mark Barnett finished the drive with a punishing five-yard TD run, and the Bulldogs led 21-7.
Morgan drove the ball to the Bulldogs' 42 on its next possession but failed to convert on a fourth and eight, turning the ball over on downs. Two plays later, Barnett, who finished with 133 yards on 10 carries, took a sweep around the left end 54 yards to pay dirt, and the Bulldogs had a three-score lead.
Morgan tacked on a late TD run by quarterback Ben Saunders for the final tally.
"This was not like us," said Christiansen. "I don't like the way we got manhandled. We hope to see them again soon," he added.
Judge will face North Sanpete in next week's opening-round playoff game, while Morgan will face Richfield.
Chris VanCampen is a graduate of the University of Utah and Santa Clara Law School and practices law in Heber, is a father of four, an avid fly-fisherman, and announcer of many Morgan High School sports events. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.