Morristown West continued its dominance of the Morristown City Championship by roaring back from a 13-0 first-half deficit for a 23-19 victory over Morristown East in the 11th Annual Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic presented by East Tennessee OB/GYN and Dr. Frank Ellis on Friday night at Burke-Toney Stadium.
It was the sixth straight city title for the Trojans and upped their series lead to 31-17.
East appeared to be on its way to a victory as the Hurricanes drove to a touchdown on their first possession and then scored again early in the second period.
The Trojans responded immediately with a 78-yard scoring drive and took advantage of East’s penalty problems to chop the spread with a field goal on the final play of the half.
Coach Alvin Sanders’ club then took the second half kickoff and used up over eight minutes of the third quarter with a 16-play scoring drive to take the lead.
Quarterback Dylan Cribley and running backs Neyland Gordon and Hunter Delaney powered the Trojans to the win.
Cribley completed 10 of 15 passes for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added 61 yards rushing as West piled up 331 yards of offense.
Gordon carried 15 times for 94 yards and Delaney chipped in 77 on 15 attempts including a 23-yard touchdown burst.
Cribley’s touchdown passes were to Jackson Cole for 20 yards and a 6-yarder to Connor Patrick. Juan Villasenor added a 36-yard field goal and a pair of extra points for the Crimson.
The loss spoiled the head coaching debut of Caleb Slover for East and kept alive the fact that no East coach in the series has ever won his first City Championship game.
East’s main culprit in the loss was the yellow flag as they set series records for a number of penalties (17) and yards penalized (140).
The Hurricanes killed a couple of their own scoring chances with flags and kept a couple of West drives alive with even more penalties.
In fact, even in their impressive game-opening touchdown march, the ‘Canes had to overcome a couple of penalties that cost them 17 yards.
East finished with 294 yards offense with most of it coming on the passing of junior quarterback Cole Henson. He completed 14 of 23 for 197 yards. Henson also ran for a touchdown in the closing seconds after the Hurricanes recovered a fumble as the Trojans were running out the clock.
Freshman Ethan Ledford led the ‘Canes in rushing with 61 yards on 11 attempts with all of those coming in the first half.
When the Trojans took the lead, it wasn’t because the East offense couldn’t move the ball, it was because the East offense couldn’t even get the ball.
The ‘Canes were up 13-7 and had the ball second-and-3 at the West 12. Noah Woodard ran for an apparent first down, but a chop block cost East 15 yards and they wound up turning it over on downs at the 15 with 2:48 left in the half.
West packed 15 plays into that amount of time in moving to Villasenor’s field goal at the half and then reeled off the long drive to take the lead meaning they ran 31 straight offensive plays when they seized the lead.
The Trojans were masterful with the clock at the end of the half. Cribley ran for eight and Delaney picked up 15. After a scramble lost a yard, Cribley fired a 9-yard completion to Terrell Lovell.
Delaney gained five and there were still 47.3 seconds left. Woodard came up with an 11-yard sack for East and the Trojans used their final timeout. The Trojans ran a screen and East was called for roughing the quarterback to produce a first down at the East 45.
Cribley hit Gordon for eight and then five and he got out of bounds on each play. After a motion penalty, Cribley found Cole on the sideline for 12 yards. A pass was incomplete as East dropped an interception and then Cribley scrambled for seven and a first down with the clock running down to 3.3.
The Trojans rushed to set up and spike the ball with 2.4 showing and ran its field goal team onto the field. However, apparently the clock did not stop on the first down and nine seconds were put on the clock. There was another incomplete pass before Villasenor kicked the 3-pointer and it was 13-10 at the half.
West took the second half kickoff and got three quick first downs. After a four-yard loss, the ‘Canes dropped another interception that would likely have been a pick-six. Cribley quickly took advantage as he scrambled away from the pass rush and ran for 17 and a first down at the 22.
Two plays gained seven yards before East committed probably its costliest penalty of the night. A defender made a good play to tackle the runner at the line of scrimmage and the Trojans might have settled for a game-tying field goal. But the defender drew a half-the distance penalty for taunting on the play and it was a first and goal at the 7.
Cribley then fired to a wide-open Patrick over the middle for the touchdown and Villasenor hit the PAT with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
The ‘Canes got a 32-yard pass from Henson to Trevor Malone but had to punt, and West then ripped off yards in big chunks to take control.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Gordon ran for 11 and then picked up 7 and 17. Cribley ran a bootleg for 10 and then Delaney weaved his way through the East defense for a 23-yard TD. A bad snap ruined the point after but the Trojans were up 23-13 with 9:27 to play.
East had penalties for holding and motion after the kickoff and then fumbled with Dominick Hazeltine recovering at the East 14. It looked like the Trojans were going to put the game away, but the football popped free at the goal line and Malone picked it up and took it out to the 10.
West was penalized 15 yards on two straight plays and Henson fired a 27-yard pass to Malone. The two teamed up again for a short gain, but East was called for blocking below the waist again and then an illegal forward pass and wound up in a fourth-and-29 at the West 44.
Henson hit Austin Williams for 24 yards on the play and the Trojans took over with 1:44 left.
Two plays later the ball was loose again and East’s Jacob Williams recovered. Henson scored on a 10-yard run but the extra point was blocked by Justin Dilbeck. West recovered a pooch kick attempt and that was it.
East grabbed the lead by taking the opening kickoff and going 77 yards in 10 plays. Henson completed passes of 21, 6, 2 and 10 yards in the drive and had runs of 15 and 13. C.J. Livesay got the touchdown on a 1-yard run and Gerson Sorto kicked the point after with 7:14 left in the first.
Late in the quarter, West failed on a fourth-and-short at the East 39 and the ‘Canes took over and scored again. The Hurricanes had a first down at the Trojan 28 when a bad snap moved the ball all the way back to the 47.
However, Henson fired to Williams down the left sidelines. He grabbed the ball, juggled it and then pulled it back in as he went into the end zone. Patrick blocked the extra point kick.
After the kickoff, the Trojans got on the board. Cribley had a 19-yard run and passed to Patrick for 10. The points came on a 20-yard toss to Cole who made a great catch to take the ball away from an East defender. Villasenor kicked the point with 7:10 left in the half.
Trojans 23, Hurricanes 19
East 7 6 0 6— 19
West 0 10 7 6— 23
ME - C.J. Livesay 1-run (Gerson Sorto kick)
ME - Austin Williams 48-pass from Cole Henson (kick blocked)
MW - Jackson Cole 20-pass from Dylan Cribley (Juan Villasenor kick)
MW - Villasenor 36-FG
MW - Connor Patrick 6-pass from Cribley (Villasenor kick)
MW - Hunter Delaney 23-run (run failed)
ME - Henson 10-run (kick failed)
First Down 16 23
Rushes-yards 25-102 44-231
Passing 197 100
Att-Comp-Int 24-14-0 15-10-0
Total Offense 299 331
Punts 2-32.5 1-23
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 17-140 8-87