Morristown East freshman football coach Josh Bible is a patient man. This season, his Hurricanes squad has tested all of his patience and then some. So far this year, the Hurricanes continued to find ways to defeat themselves through turnovers and bad luck. However, on Monday night, that all changed in a very big way.
The Hurricanes shocked the Trojan Nation crowd with a 14-13 victory over Morristown West at Burke-Toney Stadium.
The bad luck converted to the Morristown West side as the Trojans committed two crucial turnovers in goal line situations to come out on the losing end.
Late in the game, the Trojans had another opportunity to score, but Morristown East’s Josue Garcia recovered a fumble on a punt to seal the victory for the Hurricanes.
For Bible, his coaching staff and his players, Monday night’s win over the cross-town rival Trojans was an emotional one.
“All week long, I could tell this team was ready for this game,’ said Bible. “They came together and we are ready to go celebrate. This team has had a rough season, but a win tonight changes that.
“We told the guys to forget what has happened so far this season and they responded well. These guys have started their high school careers against West with a win and that’s something they should be proud of.”
For Morristown West coach Josh Edens, he says the team has no one to blame but themselves.
“Again, it’s another instance of us overcoming us,” said Edens. “We were turned away three times in the red zone not because of Morristown East, but because of ourselves. We had two bad snaps and plenty of missed blocks and fumbles. We also had an opportunity at the end of the game, but we coughed the ball up on a punt return. Despite the loss, I think we grew a lot tonight. We did whatever we wanted to against them on offense, but we just couldn’t finish the drives.”
On Morristown East’s first possession, the Hurricanes were forced to punt, which resulted in a blocked punt by Morristown West’s Bryson Blevins. After the block, the Trojans were set up in excellent field position, but they failed to take advantage of the special teams play as Morristown East regained possession.
On the following possession, Morristown East broke the shutout with a well-manicured drive. The Hurricanes’ D.J. Hodges and Isaiah Griffin broke 15-yard carries to set up a red zone attempt.
With 2:57 showing on the first quarter clock, Hodges broke through three tackles and scored from 13 yards away. Jon Koogler nailed the extra-point attempt for a 7-0 lead.
However, the lead did not last long as Morristown West scored on the ensuing kickoff.
Kickoff returner Patrick Livingston raced 70 yards for touchdown. After a successful extra-point, the game was knotted at 7.
Later in the half, the Trojans retained possession and put together what appeared to be a scoring drive behind two long passes from quarterback Elijah Brown to wide receiver Luke Phillips.
With the ball first and goal on the 7, the Trojans’ snapped the ball over Brown’s head and Morristown East’s James Claiborne recovered the fumble for the Hurricanes to begin the second quarter.
Both squads relied heavily on the run game as the second quarter winded down. Morristown West’s Hezekiyah Rudolph blasted through the Morristown East defensive line for two long carries, but the Hurricane defense forced two punts. However, Morristown West converted a scoring play right before halftime ended.
Livingston caught a reception from Brown and broke through the secondary for a 43-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining. The Trojans went for a two-point conversion, which failed sending the game 13-7 into the locker room.
In the third quarter, the Hurricanes faced a fourth-and-7 in Morristown West territory. Quarterback Dylan Noe converted the fourth down play with a diving 7-yard gain to keep the drive alive with 3:25 left in the quarter. Noe later turned the drive into a touchdown when he found wide receiver Daniel Carmichael on a 25-yard touchdown reception at the 2:11 mark. Koogler added another successful extra point for a 14-13 Morristown East lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans relied on the legs of Rudolph. He moved the ball downfield on numerous consecutive runs to set up a first down at the 6 with 8:10 left. However, a bad snap was recovered by Morristown East’s Jake Putnam to end another crucial scoring opportunity for the Trojans.
-By Chris Ayers, Assistant Sports Editor