By Charles Prince
The North Jefferson News
MORRIS — If you weren’t at Jimmie Trotter Stadium on Friday night, please stop reading this, because you probably won’t believe the words that will follow.
The Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils looked like a beaten team at halftime, as they trailed the Gardendale Rockets by 20 points and had been out-gained by 200 yards in the first two quarters of play.
Somehow, they composed themselves during the halftime break and dominated the second half of play, as they scored an improbable 24-23 win.
“Composure and a lot of belief in each other. That’s how we won this ball game,” Mortimer Jordan head coach Greg Watts said afterwards. “We’ve got great kids, who don’t know what it means to give up. In the first half we were spinning our wheels and Gardendale had some things working, but at the half, our kids decided they were ready to go. They were very upset at halftime. We came out and did a few things we thought would work in the second half and it got us going.”
The Blue Devils offense line came out of the lockerroom after the intermission with a new determination and played a dominating half of football, as they led the running game to gain 182 rushing yards after halftime.
After a kickoff return placed the ball on the Mortimer Jordan 25-yard line, the line opened a huge gap in the Gardendale defense, allowing halfback Brent Nation to turn the corner on the sweep and race all the way down the field for a lighting-quick touchdown. With Tyler Kimbrough’s point-after, the lead was trimmed to 13, at 20-7.
On the next Gardendale possesion, Mortimer Jordan’s Luke Harris picked off the first of his three interceptions on the night to set up the Blue Devil offense at the Rocket’s 43-yard line.
On second-and-five from the 38, Nation turned the corner again and raced to the end zone for his second touchdown run in a little over thre minutes.
When Kimbrough added the point-after, the Blue Devils trailed 20-14 with 8:41 left in the thrid quarter.
“Brent was a little down at the half, he had lost a fumble and wasn’t playing well,” Watts said. “But he had a great second half.”
Each team punted twice over the next four possessions, before the Rockets drove into field goal range.
The Rockets moved 57 yards in 13 plays to the Mortimer Jordan 3-yard line.
When the drive stalled, Riley Krieder’s 20-yard field goal attempt landed on the top of the crossbar and fell over for a 23-14 Gardendale lead with 9:08 left to play in the game.
The Blue Devils weren’t done, however, as after an exchange of punts, Mortimer Jordan drove 67 yards in two plays.
The touchdown came on a 64-yard pass to John Kelly Pate from Jon Paul Motte. Pate had gotten past two Gardendale defenders at the Rocket’s 25-yard line when the hauled in the deep throw from Motte.
Pate then went untouched into the end zone for the score.
Kimbrough’s point-after cut the lead to 23-21 with 4;28 left in the contest.
On the next Gardendale possession, Harris picked off his third pass of the game and returned it to Gardendale 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Kimbrough was true on a 27-yard field goal for the win.
“I know how good Gardendale is and we beat a good team tonight,” Watts said. “We put ourselves in a position to be in the drivers seat for the region race. This is a great win and it means so much in the standings.”
By Charles Prince