Morris opens playoffs with big win over Rich East
For the Morris football team, Saturday afternoon's playoff football game went exactly as expected. The Redskins defense was fierce, special teams gave them great field position all game and the offense T-ed it up.
Utilizing the T-formation almost exclusively against Rich East, the locals built a huge 24-point lead at the end of the first quarter and a 38-point lead at halftime en route to a 44-0 win over the Rockets.
"We had about 200 yards in punt returns and that just shows how big the punt returners were," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "Everyone worked hard to get us good field position. The defense got a lot of three and outs and together everyone builds off of each other. I was happy with all three phases of our game — special teams, defense and offense — on Saturday."
Morris kicked off to start the game and held Rich East to three and out. Jake Hogan then took the first punt of the day back 50 yards to give the Redskins the ball on the 12-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Morris lined up in the T and Jeff Perry bolted in for the first score of the game. Fernando Del Toro's kick then made it 7-0 just 2:20 into the game.
Collin Grogan recovered a Rockets fumble four plays later on the Rich East 38 and one snap later, Morris scored again. Reese Sobol scored and Del Toro's kick made it 14-0 at 8:10.
It didn't get any easier from there for the Rockets.
Morris held Rich East to another three-and-out on defense and this time Kyle Hill returned the ensuing punt 44 yards and the Redskins set up shop at the East 18.
Two plays later, Sobol scored on an 11-yard run and Del Toro's kick made it 21-0 at 6:50 of the first.
Craig Claire and Danny Friend combined on a sack of East quarterback Malcolm Miller to force another three-and-out and Hogan returned the following punt 34 yards this time. That gave Morris the ball on the East 18-yard line.
Things stalled out a bit for the Morris offense for the first time as East started stacking the box against the T. Still, after three plays Del Toro was called in and he kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 24-0.
The second quarter came into play, but the Morris defense again forced another three-and-out — this time with Friend and Nik Countryman forcing the definitive sack in the drive. Hill then returned the punt 5 yards and Morris had the ball on the East 23.
Four plays later, fullback Collin Grogan scored from 4-yards out and Del Toro's kick made it 31-0.
From there, East kept Morris at bay until 40 seconds remained before halftime. In the time in between, Claire recovered a fumble on defense and the Redskins had a Del Toro field goal blocked. Still, Friend recovered a fumble (one handed) and returned it back to the 9 to once again set up good field position for the Redskins. Three plays later, Grogan scored again — this time from the 5 and Del Toro's kick made the halftime score 38-0.
Essentially, that meant Morris' next TD which came at 7:54 — Perry on a 34-yard run — made it a running-clock contest. De Toro's final PAT attempt was blocked.
"We watched the film on them and when we broke it down, we thought we had a big advantage on the offensive line," Thorson said. "Our three backs run well, but they also block well for each other. We felt confident going in with the running game."
Thorson said that, even though Morris scored 30 points against Kaneland in the final week of the regular season, that the Redskins wanted to get back to establishing the run again.
"We wanted to get the run game going again. The kids did a great job," he said.
Morris ran the ball 46 times for 228 yards. Defensively the Redskins held the Rockets to 28 total yards, including negative-16 yards rushing.
The Redskins will now play again next weekend against Urbana.