MORRISON – Cory Bales’ new era Wildcats came out with a victory, but the cost was substantial.
Behind the performance of do-it-all quarterback Gage Williams, Morrison High was able to pull off a 22-7 victory against Kiefer at home on Friday night. Despite accounting for 199 total yards and two touchdowns, the story doesn’t end for Williams.
In the fourth quarter, he was running to the outside but decided to cut back toward the middle of the field. In doing so, his legs gave out, and he collapsed to the muddy grass of Dennis Casey Field.
“It doesn’t look good,” Bales said. “I hate it for him. He was hurt last year and the year before that, but we’ll see what happens.”
Morrison (1-0) led by seven when Williams played his last snap of the night. Despite threatening in Kiefer territory, new quarterback Jared Harmon and the offense couldn’t keep the drive going, and the Trojans took over inside their own 20 late in the fourth quarter.
The momentum was shifting in favor of the visitors, but the Wildcat defense was able to force its third turnover of the game, recovering a fumble inside the Kiefer 10-yard line.
From there, Morrison knew it could seal the game with one score, and that is exactly what it did.
Three plays later, Calan Veit took the ball in from two yards out to extend the lead to two scores, and the Morrison fans took a collective sigh of relief. Veit was the top leading Wildcat rusher from last year to return to the team, and he delivered on the ground when his team needed it.
“The game was on the line,” Veit said. “Kiefer gave it everything they had, and I got across. It’s the best feeling ever.”
It was a hard battle for Morrison, which had to replace a lot of production on both sides from last year. The Wildcats’ inexperience showed at times, and Bales had to turn some of the adversity into teaching moments.
“This was some great film to learn off of,” Bales said. “They came after us defensively. We made a lot of mistakes, but we’ll get better for next week.”
The Kiefer offense threw the Wildcat defense off at times, especially in the secondary. This was shown late in the first half when Kiefer wide receiver Hayden Cooper took a short pass 55 yards for a touchdown.
Although the passing game was able to keep Kiefer in the game, there was nothing to get on the ground because of Morrison’s strong defensive line. Bales said they performed well and were a big reason behind the Wildcats’ victory.
As hard as it was at times, and even with the Williams injury, Morrison found a way to start the season in the victory column. It is the sixth time in seven years that they have done so, and Bales said he was glad there were bright points from the game. The Wildcats head on the road at 7 p.m. next Friday against Crescent.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Bales said. “They have to establish their own identity. It’s a new group with new faces and it’s great to start off with a win.”