By Phil Albert
Adding to their impressive second-half dominance one week ago in beating Stockbridge, the Mt. Zion Bulldogs amassed 32 first-half points in collecting a 47-0 rout of visiting Morrow at Tara Stadium Friday night.
In the second half of last week's rout of Stockbridge, Mt. Zion allowed just eight yards of total offense to the host Tigers.
The Bulldog defense swallowed Morrow's attack, allowing just 26 total yards in the first half, 18 coming in the final minute on a run by Mustang quarterback Benton Smith.
The Bulldog defense also created the scoring opportunities for the offense. Last week, Mt. Zion started seven drives inside Stockbridge territory.
Friday night, the Bulldogs started five drives in Morrow territory and had an interception return for a touchdown.
Jamaal Clark had two consecutive interceptions for the Bulldog defense in the first quarter. In eight plays, the Bulldogs had built a 12-0 lead on a four-yard touchdown by Maurice Leggett and a 30-yard scoring pass from Emory Clark to Charlton Bivins.
Jamaal Clark's interceptions marked the first time he snagged two in the same game.
"Our defense had to step it up," he said after the win. "When our defense steps up, our offense steps up. We balance each other out. It was great to get the turnovers for the offense."
Mt. Zion (2-1 overall, 2-0 region 2-AAAAA) took a 20-0 lead two plays into the second quarter on a 35-yard run by Josh Chapman and Emory Clark added the two-point conversion.
After holding Morrow on three downs, Mt. Zion took just two plays before Leggett broke free for a 54-yard score.
Morrow again couldn't move the ball and Smith was caught on a fake punt attempt at the Mustang 20. Seven plays later, Chapman added his second touchdown on the night with a one-yard run, ending the first-half scoring.
Morrow had as many penalty yards (25) as offensive yards (25) in the half.
Things continued badly for Morrow opening the third quarter, only taking possession at the 6-yard line to open the quarter. One play later, Leggett tackled Marhna Ferrell for a safety.
In only seven more plays from scrimmage, the Mustangs had ended the scoring.
The Mustangs took six plays after the safety before Jory Thomas scored on a four-yard run.
Following the kickoff, Tray Robinson intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 25 yards for the final touchdown. Chapman finally added the extra point.
Mt. Zion played error-free football and had just one penalty in the fourth quarter. The only miscues came in the kicking game, as two kickoffs went out of bounds and the team converted on just 1-of-5 extra points and 1-of-2 two-point conversions.
But for coach Jackie Green, the win was a dream come true.
"I never dreamed we would score 32 in the first half," he said. "Morrow was aggressive up front so we ran outside. It was a good night."
He added, "Everyone got to play. I was especially pleased defensively. Our gang tackling was strong and effective."
Chapman played the first half and gained 70 yards and Leggett added 65 yards, all in the first half. The Bulldogs finished with 269 total yards, 227 coming on the ground.
Morrow finished with 118 total yards, 92 coming in the second half against Mt. Zion reserves. Gerald Gipson's 40-yard run in the fourth quarter was the lone highlight.
The win also adds to the importance of next Friday's Tara Stadium showdown with Jonesboro. The Cardinals won last year's showdown and Green is looking for revenge as last year's loss by the Bulldogs hurt the team's playoff chances.