WASHINGTON – At halftime of Friday night’s football game, Morris coach Alan Thorson didn’t make schematic adjustments, even though his team was trailing, 10-7.
Instead, he talked about something else.
“I told these guys that the second half was going to be all about heart,” Thorson said. “We hadn’t played all that bad. In fact, our defense was playing great.”
The Morris defense faced a tough situation just before halftime, as Washington recovered a Redskin fumble near midfield and drove inside the Morris 5-yard line.
The Panthers had first-and-goal at the 2 with 8.2 seconds left in the first half. They threw two incomplete passes and settled for a 19-yard field goal at the buzzer to obtain their 10-7 halftime lead.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,” linebacker Kameron Dransfeldt said. “That’s kind of how things are going to be this year.”
Needing a spark to get things going, the Redskins found one as soon as the second half started.
Payton Voitik settled under the kickoff at his own 8-yard line and liked what he saw in front of him. He burst through the hole that had opened up in the middle of the field, then swerved to his left and outran the Washington kick coverage for a 92-yard touchdown.
Austin Hatcher’s extra point gave Morris a 14-10 lead just 19 seconds into the second half, a lead the Redskins never relinquished en route to a 21-10 win over a team that entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 5A.
“That return is called ‘funnel to the middle,’ ” Voitik said. “We score on it a lot in practice, so I was pretty excited when it was called. I had a good feeling about it and it kind of deflated them. We were able to build off of that.
“This was a pretty hyped-up game with them ranked No. 2 in 5A. They are a good team.”
What went without saying is that Morris is a good team, too, and they wanted to show people just how good they are.
Washington quarterback Caleb Fisher completed 10 of 14 passes in the first half, but the Redskins’ coverage tightened up after halftime, recording three interceptions. The biggest one came in the third quarter, when Blake Breyman ended any chance of Washington gaining back the momentum.
After Dransfeldt’s 88-yard touchdown run put Morris ahead, 21-10, in the third, Washington’s Sam Walter returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Morris 26.
On the first play after that, Fisher lofted a pass to the end zone in the direction of Cole Ludolph, who finished the game with 11 receptions for 122 yards. Blake Breyman jumped high in front of Ludolph and came down with the interception before rolling into the end zone and giving the ball back to Morris.
“It was a great feeling to get my first varsity interception,” Breyman said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time. But it wasn’t just a play or two that I made. It took the whole team to win.”
In the fourth quarter, Morris got interceptions from Voitik and Dransfeldt to help keep that Panthers at bay and improve to 2-0 on the season.
“We are probably going to have some tight games this season,” Dransfeldt said. “We showed tonight that we aren’t going to fold when that happens.”