Gators lose 21-14 to Morgan Academy
Nov. 9, 2017

By Ronald Frazier

​It was not the result that Glenwood envisioned as the Gators wound up on the losing end of a 21-14 game with Morgan Academy in the first round of the AISA class AAA playoffs Nov. 3 at Sammy Howard field.

The Senators made up a 14-7 deficit at halftime and outscored Glenwood 14-0 in the second half to take the victory and move forward to face undefeated Monroe Academy in Monroeville on Nov. 10 in the semifinal round.

“We were without No. 4 and No. 6 and No. 45 went out for a whole quarter,” said Glenwood coach Jason Gibson after the loss. “Those were our playmakers on offense and defense.”

No. 4 is the Gators’ top rusher and touchdown scorer, Kayleen Bonds who was on the sidelines in shorts and wearing a knee brace. On the first play from scrimmage against Abbeville Christian, Bonds wound up with a sprained knee ligament. Gibson was hopeful if Glenwood could survive this contest, he would be back in uniform for the next round.

O’Neil was No. 6 and on his first catch of the night in the first half, had to be assisted off the field. He returned for a play on defense but had to limp off after one play and did not return. No. 45 was Kelcey Allen and he suffered cramps and missed multiple plays in the second half when the Senators mounted their comeback.

“I was proud of how far we went with the players we had on the field,” said Gibson. “We had a chance at the end but missed keeping the ball by one yard.”

The first half of the game was a defensive struggle as the Gators looked to find their offensive rhythm and Morgan Academy looking to dent the Gator defense. 

It was the Glenwood defense that broke the ice, when cornerback David Copeland stepped in front of Morgan’s Peyton Egbert pass and outraced the Senators for a 63-yard touchdown return with only 1:32 left before halftime.

That was the first of three touchdowns that were scored in that last 1:32.

With O’Neil out of the game, Morgan’s Hardin Utsey got behind the secondary and Egbert hit him in stride for a 59-yard scoring play and a tie game at 7-7 with only 30 seconds on the clock.

Morgan then hit a short squib kick but Glenwood’s Austin Downey fell on it on the 45 yard line. Four quick passes for a first down and Bruce Valero on a scramble found an open lane on the right side and went 43-yards for a 14-7 lead at with seven seconds left before intermission.

That’s how the score stayed until the fourth quarter.

Both teams had the ball only once in the third, but it was Morgan that had it last. They went 84 yards on 16 plays with the drive culminating on an Egbert run on the first play of the fourth period and a tie game at 14-14.

Morgan got the ball back after a Gator punt and scored the game-winner and again it was Egbert. With Allen on the sidelines, he found a lane up the middle and went 29 yards on a keeper for a 21-14 lead.

The Gators had one last gasp and drove from their own 29 to the 19. Glenwood had a fourth and two and Valero was stopped one yard shy of the first down with 38 seconds to play and the jubilant Senators ran out the clock for the seven-point win.

“It seems like the injury bug hit us all in one week,” said Gibson. “I felt we were in good shape going into the last week and it limits what you can do both offensively and defensively without your playmakers.”

Glenwood had met Morgan during the regular season in a game played in Selma and this game had a similar script. Utsey scored in that September contest on a long play and Glenwood returned a pass for a TD as well. Valero also had a TD run and Copeland intercepted a pass in that game as well. But Bonds 123 yards rushing and TD were not there on the 3rd and the Gator offense suffered.

The Gators did not get their first first down until four minutes in the second quarter and were outgained 2-1 by Morgan Academy in the game. 

Glenwood ended the year at 7-5 while Morgan improved to 6-5.​