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Eagles seat Senators, keep playoff hopes alive

FDA quarterback Luke Taylor remained two steps ahead of the Morgan defense.  The sophomore was 9 for 15 passing with 182 yards and three touchdowns, and he earned another 70 yards on the ground.

FDA quarterback Luke Taylor remained two steps ahead of the Morgan defense. The sophomore was 9 for 15 passing with 182 yards and three touchdowns, and he earned another 70 yards on the ground.  Photo courtesy of Alaina Denean.

By JUSTIN FEDICH

The Selma Times-Journal

Both the Morgan Senators and the Fort Dale Eagles came into Friday night’s class AAA, region 2 game needing a win to control their fate in the playoff race.

The Morgan Senators (3-5, 2-3) were unable to overcome a four touchdown deficit as they fell to the Fort Dale Eagles (5-3, 2-3) 28-20. With a loss, Morgan now is no longer in control of its playoff destiny. If Fort Dale wins next week, it takes the Senators’ spot in the playoffs.

“I’m just hurt,” said Morgan head coach Jake Wingo. “That’s one of the toughest losses I’ve ever had.”

Morgan had a promising first drive, but Fort Dale’s defense forced a Jackson Henderson fumble at the 1-yard line to stop the Senators from reaching the end zone.

“It always hurts when you turn the ball over in a goal line situation,” Wingo said. “I don’t know if the outcome would’ve been any different, but it definitely didn’t help.”

The Senators’ offense was stymied the rest of the first half, as Fort Dale’s offense had no trouble settling into a rhythm on the road. The Eagles’ defense also proved to be too tough, as Fort Dale’s Colby Stone finished the game with three sacks.

“We’re a little bit bigger and stronger than them and I think that was the difference in the game,” said Fort Dale head coach James Sampley.

After a scoreless first quarter, Eagles quarterback Luke Taylor connected with tight end Caison Elliott for a 21-yard strike and Stephen Hartley for a 33-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Fort Dale took a 14-0 lead into halftime.

Taylor opened the second half with a third touchdown pass, as he connected with Hartley for a second time on a 31-yard score. With the Eagles leading 21-0, Morgan’s Woodham Kemmer fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Fort Dale on Morgan’s 7-yard line.

Taylor ran a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak to take a 28-0 lead with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.

After fumbling on its next possession, Morgan was in danger of going down five touchdowns. As Taylor took a big shot downfield, it was broken up by Sam Brackin and landed in the hands of JR Wood for the interception.

With 1:08 left in the third quarter, Morgan quarterback Harrison Adams hit Sawyer Hopkins for a 6-yard touchdown.

The Senators tried to mount a comeback in a fourth quarter that dragged on due to penalties and three ejections, two of which were on Morgan players.

Adams hit Jackson Henderson for a 33-yard touchdown and Hopkins caught the two-point conversion to lower the deficit to 28-14 with 2:56 left in the game. The Senators forced a punt, and Brackin took the return 80 yards for a score, and Morgan trailed 28-20 with 1:31 remaining.

After failing to recover the onside kick, Morgan lost the ability to control its own fate in the playoff race as Fort Dale held on for the win.

“This win was big, but if we don’t top it off next week it won’t really count as much,” Sampley said.

Fort Dale is on the road at Pike Liberal Arts next Friday in a game that decides whether the Eagles or Senators will make the playoffs. Morgan is at Hooper Academy next Friday.