Longhorns start season in unfamiliar place

8-25-2017 — Selma, Ala. — Marengo Academy’s Trey Etheridge (10) and Dalton Daniels (54) bring down a Senator runner during the Longhorns’ season opener against Morgan Academy.

SELMA – The 2017 season did not start out for the Marengo Academy Longhorns like the 2016 season ended. Nine months from walking off the field as winner of the state championship game, the Longhorns did not leave as victors. The Class 3A Morgan Academy Senators handed the Longhorns their first loss of the season 57-6 Friday night.

The Longhorns started the game with a strong defensive stand and the Senators went three and out. The ‘Horns matched the Senators with a three and out on their first possession. On the following Senators’ possession, Casey Cramer picked off a pass and returned it deep into Morgan territory. After a successful fourth down conversion at the 4-yard line, the Longhorns fumbled and the ball was scooped up and returned to the 24-yard line. On the next play, the Senators hit on a 76-year touchdown pass. With a successful PAT, the Senators were up 7-0 with 4:27 to go in the first quarter.

8-25-2017 — Selma, Ala. — Marengo Academy’s Casey Cramer (22) returns an interception against the Morgan Academy Senators during the Longhorns’ season opener.

The Longhorns put up negative yards on their next possession and found themselves punting from within their own end zone. A fumbled punt was recovered by the Senators and the deficit grew to 14-0.

On their following possession, William Drake put the Longhorns in scoring territory with a run to the 19-yard line. Hunter Parker took the next snap to the five. Drake then punched it in from there and a failed PAT left the Longhorns down 14-6. As fate would have it, that was the last time the ‘Horns would make it to the end zone on the night.

The ensuing kickoff was returned by the Senators for a touchdown. The Senators followed that up with a 67-yard run and a 36-yard run after another Longhorn fumble. After a punt, the senators tacked on a 60-yard swing pass for a touchdown to lead 35-6 at the half.

After Hunter Parker left the field during halftime, Cramer moved to quarterback and Gavin Thompson moved to his more familiar position at running back. Unfortunately, the Longhorns’ fortunes didn’t change. An errant snap on a fourth down gave the Senators possession at the Longhorns’ 9-yard line. The next play was a touchdown run off the left side which put the Longhorns down 49-6 with 7:50 to go in the third quarter. The Senators followed up that score with a touchdown run with 8:03 to go in the fourth and a successful two-point conversion gave the Senators a 57-6 lead. A running clock made quick work of the remainder of the game.

8-25-2017 — Selma, Ala. — Marengo Academy’s Hunter Parker (24) runs around the block of William Drake (6) during the Longhorns’ season opener against the Morgan Academy Senators.

“We knew they were a fast team and we had to make open field tackles. We were right there with them for a quarter and a half and had some momentum and almost took a lead right off the bat. But, we fumbled and made too many mistakes and turnovers,” said first year head coach Lebo Jones. “With our lack of depth, they just wore us out. Once they got the momentum, it was over. They’re a 3A school and it’s hard to beat a 3A school when you’re a 1A school. But, we’re going to get better every day.”

Drake led the Longhorns with 48 yards on 13 carries. Parker tallied 27 yards on five carries before leaving the game at the half. The Longhorns lost two fumbles on the night.

Defensively, Carson Crawford led the Longhorns with five tackles. Trey Etheridge added four tackles and Cramer picked off a pass.

Marengo (0-1) will be at home next Thursday (8/31) against Monroe Academy.

8-25-2017 — Selma, Ala. — Marengo Academy’s William Drake (6) sizes up a defender during the Longhorns’ season opener against the Morgan Academy Senators.