MORGANTOWN — They say big time players make big time plays, in big time games.
That statement applied to the Morgantown Mohigans in a 26-18 victory over the University Hawks in the 2023 Mohawk Bowl Friday night as seniors AJ Thomas and Bobby Powell combined for 295 total yards and three touchdowns (all by Thomas) to lead their team to a second-consecutive Mohawk Bowl victory.
“We came into the game with no energy to start,” Thomas said. “Our motto before every game is to start fast, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. At halftime we discussed what went wrong and what we needed to change in order to turn the game around.”
After trailing at halftime 12-7 and allowing a UHS touchdown in the opening drive of the third quarter, the Mohigans found themselves down 18-7 with their backs against the wall.
Enter Thomas and Powell.
On the ensuing offensive drive for MHS, Powell caught a screen pass an broke free for a 66 yard gain to the UHS seven yard line. Thomas punched home from seven yards out to cut the deficit to 18-13.
“That definitely was the spark for us,” Thomas said of the big gain by his teammate, Powell. “We needed someone to step up and get us going an Bobby is one of those guys for us.”
After a strong defensive stand, the Mohigans found themselves back on offense and took only two plays to find the end zone again as Thomas broke free for another long run, this one a touchdown for 61 yards to put his team ahead by one point, 19-18.
He wasn’t done either, as Thomas sealed the game with another touchdown run, this one for 68 yards with 1:44 left in the game.
“The guy was hungry, so we had to feed him,” MHS head coach Sean Biser said after Thomas had all but one of MHS’s rushing attempts in the second half. “We tried to get the ball to Bobby early and he struggled a bit so we had to start going with whoever had the hot hand. AJ got the ball in some space and he did a great job to find some room and make plays.”
Thomas finished with 196 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns on the night helping the Mohigans improve to 7-2 and solidify a spot in the playoffs. He has 13 total touchdowns on just 57 carries this year.
Powell had two catches for 69 yards, including the 66-yard screen pass.
UHS head coach John Kelley acknowledged the effort of Thomas after the game.
“You can’t stop them all,” Kelley said. “We stopped Powell, we stopped Caleb Nutter, we stopped Andrew Phares, but Thomas got rolling and gave them a huge boost.”
UHS receiving duo John Coleman and Ethan Jackson, combined for 17 catches for 281 yards and one touchdown to lead the Hawks offense.
“Our lineman stepped up tremendously in the second half,” Thomas said. “Their blocking at the line up front and down the field opened the field for me and I owe it all to them. We are happy to have the win tonight and want to keep rolling into next week and then into the playoffs.”
The Mohigans will conclude their regular season next week at home against Linsly at 7:00p.m.
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