2A Kemper County Head Coach Brock Clay knew his Wildcats would need a fast start and a little luck without Marcus Green, the team’s leading offensive weapon, to win on the road at 3A Morton High.
The Wildcat defense opened the lid on the night’s scoring with a safety to stake the Cats out to a 2-0 lead. Following the free kick the Wildcats made a costly mistake when an out route pass was plucked from the sky and returned by a Morton defender all the way down to just outside the Wildcat 20.
A strong defensive stand by Kemper County forced a turnover on downs. After the teams traded turnovers, the Wildcats were pinned back deep inside their own two yard line. A draw play was stopped in the backfield and a safety was registered by the home standing Panthers to tie the score at two.
A Dedrick McDonald QB sneak for a score and a LaColtan Jackson TD pass later the teams were square again at eight.
To close out the first half scoring, Courtney Boyd got loose for an eight yard scamper and with the successful extra point conversion the Panthers held a 15-8 lead before the 2006 Homecoming crowd.
With the momentum appearing to shift away from the visiting Wildcats, the half time adjustments were critical. As the opening period of the second half would prove, those adjustments were also very effective.
Kemper County scored early in the third quarter on another LaColtan Jackson touchdown pass. Jackson has been forced into service due to Mississippi State commitment, Marcus Green, being sidelined with an ankle injury.
The Jackson pass to Torris Grady, who proved to be a thorn in the Panther’s side most of the night, cut the Morton lead down to 15-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats jarred the ball loose and returned the fumble for a touchdown. The special teams contribution gave Kemper County a 20-15 lead after 3 quarters.
Morton’s Randall Ficklin began to impose his will in fourth quarter play and his presence proved to be a determining factor in the outcome.
The talented Ficklin lined up at tight end and the Panther running attack ran behind him mostly unmolested in the 4th quarter. If he wasn’t blowing open running lanes he was shutting down passing lanes from his defensive end position.
A pair of short touchdown runs from Courtney Boyd and Dedrick McDonald put the Panthers back out in front to stay at 30-20.
The Wildcats proved they would not go quietly. LaColtan Jackson connected on his third touchdown pass of the contest to cut the Panther lead to 30-26, but Kemper County would get no closer.
A 36-yard passing strike from Dedrick McDonald stretched the Morton lead to 37-26, but McDonald found Antonio Hughes for a 70-yard touchdown catch and run to put the nail in the coffin a possession later.
Kemper County falls to 1-2 and 0-2 without Marcus Green. The talented Green is hopeful to return next week when the Wildcats travel to 2-1 Union.
Morton hosts Carthage in a battle of undefeated teams next week. The Panthers will look to slow down the high octane Carthage offense and high flyers O’Neal Wilder and Antonio Ricks.