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No. 5 Morgan Academy stumbles at Monroe Academy

After scoring a combined 80 points in back-to-back wins to start the season, Morgan Academy couldn’t keep its offense on the field in a 12-9 loss to host Monroe Academy on Friday night.

The No. 5-ranked Senators (2-1, 1-1) were limited to five possessions in the AAA, Region 2 game. The Volunteers, meanwhile, piled up 191 yards rushing with their wing-T offense. That ground game allowed Monroe Academy (1-2, 1-1) to control the pace.

“It was a very disappointing loss,” Morgan Academy coach Danny Raines said. “It was a big region game. We’ll just have to bounce back from it and do the best we can.”

Penalties and the defense’s inability to get off the field on third and fourth down hurt the Senators.

An example was Monroe Academy’s final possession. Facing a third-and-9, the Volunteers drew a pass interference penalty for a first down.

Later in the possession, Monroe Academy quarterback Carter Ledkins lined up in the shotgun on third-and-16 and converted on a QB keeper to the Morgan Academy 31.

Monroe Academy clinched the victory when Ledkins ran for a first down on fourth-and-1 with 3:20 left. From there, the Volunteers were able to run out the clock.

“It was very frustrating,” Raines said of the third- and fourth-down conversions. “When you get somebody in third- and fourth-and-long, you’ve got to make a play and get off the field. Those type plays killed us tonight.” 

The Volunteers set up the go ahead touchdown when Ledkins connected with Jack Shadburn for a 45-yard gain on third-and-long in the third period. Monroe Academy got the completion despite the ball being tipped. 

Trinity McDonald found the end zone from 5 yards out. The pass failed on the try for 2, but Monroe Academy led 12-9.

Morgan Academy scored its lone touchdown on the game’s first possession. Quarterback Andrew Thomas connected with Rhyne Williams for a 50-yard gain. John Allen Ingram ran for 13 yards to the Volunteers’ 2 after a holding penalty had moved the Senators back, and Thomas scored from 2 yards out. The pass failed on the try for two.

Williams injured a shoulder on the long pass reception, limiting his effectiveness the rest of the night. He had 19 catches through two games coming into Friday.

Williams’ injury was a factor in Morgan Academy only attempting eight passes.

“It killed us,” Raines said of the effect of Williams’ injury on the passing game. “It hurt us. He did get hurt on the play. He stayed in, but it got worse as the game went on. He’s a good kid who works diligently to be as good as his is.”

The Senators failed to convert a scoring opportunity after C.J. Crocker returned a short Monroe Academy punt from the Volunteers’ 36 to the 12. An interception in the end zone ended the threat.

Monroe Academy tied the game by converting two fourth downs in the second quarter. First, Ledkins found McDonald for 16 yards on fourth-and-13. Then, Ledkins connected with McDonald again for 15 yards and the touchdown on another fourth down. The run failed on the try to for two.

A Wade Morgan 35-yard field goal put Morgan Academy back in front 9-6 late in the second quarter. The Senators could have had more on that possession, but two penalties meant they had to settle for the kick.