MORGANTOWN – The last time AJ Thomas touched the football on Friday night went much better than the first.
Thomas, a sophomore running back for Morgantown High School, broke free for a 30-yard run on third-and-16 against cross-town rival University. With just 2:15 left in the contest, that sealed a 21-20 MHS victory. The first time Thomas touched the ball Friday resulted in a fumble.
“AJ is a sophomore and everybody makes mistakes,” MHS head coach Sean Biser said. “We live by the moniker ‘this play’ and so we know that that first play is over and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. So, we just got to keep playing.”
If it wasn’t for MHS quarterback Maddox Bowers, that play might have never been called. The junior signal caller talked his coach into running the play after noticing the UHS defensive line was over-committing.
“We kept that play in our pocket all game and it had been good for us in the past,” Bowers said. “I knew (UHS) was loading up and I thought it was a good time to pull out that play. It ended up working and that got us a big first down.”
UHS head coach John Kelley said that was likely the play of the game as the Hawks (6-3) would have had all of their timeouts to drive for a potential winning score.
Morgantown (6-3) fell behind early in the game as the Hawks scored on a 2-yard run by Melique Lewis and a 51-yard interception return by Jaeden Hammack. But a blocked point after touchdown loomed large in the contest.
Marcus Ullom got MHS on the board when he broke free for a 25-yard score and then Bowers orchestrated a last-second 2-yard touchdown pass to Brodrick Washington as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half. Morgantown was able to connect on both PATs for a 14-13 halftime lead.
University grabbed a 19-14 lead in the third quarter when Noah Braham powered his way in from seven yards out. The Hawks opted to go for the two-point conversion and appeared to be successful when Braham pushed the pile into the end zone.
However, the Hawks were called for assisting the ball carrier and were forced to kick the PAT for a 20-14 lead.
Morgantown scored the final points of the game when Bowers found Bobby Powell for a 28-yard score and Aiden Stire connected on the extra point.
“They said the lineman push was assisting the ball carrier,” Kelley said. “Every short yardage play in America, the linemen push the pile. I don’t know how that call came up and it’s just frustrating. Like in any sport when a call makes a difference in the game, you always go away feeling bad. But I appreciate the officials – it’s hard to find them and they do the best job they can.”
With the win, Morgantown likely earned a playoff spot before closing the regular season with a home contest against Linsly on Friday.
UHS travels to Spring Mills for its final regular season contest.
1 2 3 4 F
UHS 13 0 7 0 20
MHS 0 14 7 0 21
UHS – Melique Lewis 2 run (John Coleman kick)
UHS – Jaeden Hammack 51 interception return (kick blocked)
MHS – Marcus Ullom 25 run (Aiden Stire kick)
MHS – Brodrick Washington 2 pass from Maddox Bowers (Stire kick)
UHS – Noah Braham 7 run (Coleman kick)
MHS – Bobby Powell 28 pass from Bowers (Coleman kick)
RUSHING – UHS: Sebastian Dalton 13-54, Hammack 1-15, Lewis 4-5, Luke Hudson 4-18, Avery Dalton 1-11, Braham 1-6. MHS: Ullom 10-67, AJ Thomas 4-26, Powell 8-30, Caleb Nutter 13-39, Bowers 1-(-4), Washington 1-3.
PASSING – UHS: Hudson 23-34-2 164. MHS: Bowers 4-9-1 52.
RECEIVING – UHS: Hammack 8-70, Braham 6-46, S. Dalton 3-37, Landon Cool 2-(-1), Coleman 2-12. MHS: Washington 3-24, Powell 1-28.
BY ERIC HERTER