By George Slaughter
The folks at Morton Ranch celebrated their Homecoming Friday night at Legacy Stadium. They enjoyed a sharp-dressed Homecoming court, and plenty of the traditional mums on the sidelines and in the stands, on a perfect evening for a football game.
Best of all, perhaps, was that the Mavericks won their first District 19-6A game of the season, a 34-14 triumph over Seven Lakes.
The win improves the Mavericks to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in district play. The loss drops the Spartans to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in district play.
The Mavericks earned their victory through strong play on both their offensive and defensive lines. Morton Ranch put together a 64-yard scoring drive to start the game, culminating in a four-yard quarterback keeper by junior Naseem Khan.
The special teams also helped. The Mavericks blocked a Spartan punt early in the second quarter, giving them the ball at the Seven Lakes 36. Four plays later, junior running back Jaelon Moorehead scored on a 20-yard run.
“We like to be aggressive,” Morton Ranch coach Ron Counter said of the blocked punt. “We blocked a few this year, not as many as I would like, but we like to go after them sometimes.”
Morton Ranch increased its lead to 21-0 on a one-yard run by junior quarterback Jaden Diaz with 1:07 left in the first half.
The Maverick defense kept up the pressure, getting six sacks on the night.
“We’re number two in district in defense,” Counter said. “He (Morton Ranch defensive coordinator Scott Joseph) blitzed a lot tonight and for the most part it worked.”
Seven Lakes suffered another special team miscue at the start of the second half. A poorly-handled snap from center on a punt resulted in a turnover on downs at the Spartan 15. On the next play, Diaz hit senior wide receiver Anthony Baker for a touchdown.
The Mavericks increased their lead to 31-0 on a 33-yard field goal by junior kicker Gabriel Garcia with 4:16 left in the third quarter.
But the Spartans weren’t going away that easily. They took the ensuing kickoff and put together a 72-yard touchdown drive. The score came on a 51-yard pass from senior quarterback Michael Batton to junior wide receiver Eric Johnson with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
The Spartans forced a Morton Ranch three-and-out, and after getting the ball back, put together another scoring drive. The touchdown, which came on the first play of the first play of the fourth quarter, was a 44-yard touchdown pass from Batton to senior wide receiver Rasheen Green.
Garcia added a late field goal for Morton Ranch to close the scoring. The field goal came after an extended drive where the Mavericks ran the ball for 10 consecutive plays to keep the clock running.
“When you can run the ball at the end of the game like that, it’s a great feeling,” Counter said, adding that he was very happy for the players because they’ve given great effort this season, despite the team’s struggles.
“Usually when you’re 3-5 (coming into a game), you’re just not that good,” Counter said. “We’re good.”
Morton Ranch finishes its season against arch-rival Mayde Creek at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rhodes Stadium. Seven Lakes faces Cinco Ranch at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Legacy Stadium.