Photo by Jerry Jackson
Morrow junior quarterback Courtney Heard is brought down by Campbell defenders Friday night at Tara Stadium.
Morrow head coach Larry Foster didn’t sound like a coach who had just lost.
His Mustangs were defeated by the Campbell Spartans 35-6 in a game where the score could’ve been worse if not for a few Spartan misfires in their passing game.
But despite the setback, Foster said he was pleased with the effort that his team gave in their first game with him at the helm.
“We started off rocky but as the game went along we began executing better and getting in the right plays,” said the first-year coach.
“We did a lot of nice things tonight and now we’ve got a couple of weeks to get things up to par.”
It indeed was not a smooth start for Morrow who is looking for its first win since a 14-0 win against Forest Park in the 2010 season finale.
Campbell wasted no time exercising its offensive firepower. After a 30-yard kick return by the Spartans’ Michael Rogers set Campbell up with good field position, Rogers then went under center and Armand Garcia on a drag route for a 40-yard touchdown which put the Spartans up 7-0 with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
Offensively, Morrow went three and out on its first possession of the game. But on Campbell’s next drive, the Mustangs defense stiffened after giving up some yards, causing the Spartan drive to stall. That’s when Myles Leary blocked and recovered a 45-yard field goal attempt by Enrique Yenny, giving Morrow life.
The Mustangs couldn’t get its offense untracked however, and after another three and out, Campbell, which operated out of a two-quarterback system for much of the night, capped off a 74-yard drive with the first of two Ricky James-to-Garcia scoring strikes.
This one, a 24 yarder to extend the Spartans’ lead to 14-0 with 6:35 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Campbell -- perhaps smelling blood — attempted an onside kick and recovered it on the Morrow 40 yard line.
James hit Garcia for the second time, this time on a 21-yard strike. Several Morrow penalties aided the Spartan scores, but Foster said his team’s discipline was still much better than in its penalty-laden scrimmage against Mount Zion a week earlier.
“We didn’t make as many miscues as we did last week, and I was pleased with that,” Foster said.
He took his team into the locker room at halftime down 21-0, but not deflated.
“They still get in that same mind of past years of not keeping their heads down and fighting through adversity,” he said. “We told them to keep their heads up and keep fighting.”
No wonder the Mustangs came out swinging to start the second half.
Alkeithion Whittner took the opening kickoff 74 yards to the Campbell 22-yard line. Then junior quarterback Jose Cervantes came in to replace Courtney Heard and connected with Sterling Taylor on a perfectly thrown fade route for 21 yards.
That set up a 1-yard bullet from Cervantes to Taylor giving morrow its only score of the game and providing Foster with another reason to be optimistic.
“We planned to get [Cervantes] some time in this game,” Foster said. “Now we have two guys that can help us in the quarterback spot.”
The fight was short-lived, however, as cramping and fatigue began to take its toll on Morrow, while Campbell running back Darius Harris pounded the defensive front into submission on his way to 122 rushing yards. He and Rogers added two late touchdowns to give provide the final margin.
Morrow will get two weeks to prepare for its Sept. 7 contest against Forest Park.
“We’re going to use this week to heal and get back to full capacity,” Foster said. “I think we still showed people that Morrow has athletes. It’s just about getting them in the right spots to be successful.”