Week 3 State Farm Game of the Week: Morse Tigers 28, Kearny Komets 25
The Morse Tigers held on to a 28-25 victory over the visiting Kearny Komets with a goal-line stand with just over 40 seconds remaining and improved to 2-0 on the season.
The Tigers got out to a quick start by putting together three touchdown drives in the first quarter. Daniel Thornton scored on a 27-yard run, Michael Cunningham ran a 12-yard touchdown, then Cunningham struck again with a spectacular 52-yard touchdown pass to Jaycob Hicks to open a 22-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
When Thornton scored again with 6:25 left before halftime, it appeared that Morse was going to make it a laugher expanding the lead to 28-7. But Kearny scored the next 10 points thanks to a Mario Alves 8-yard touchdown run followed by kicker Musashi Nozaki kicking a 41-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 28-17 at halftime.
With seven minutes left in the game, Alves connected with Devante Koyl-Fleming for 50 yards deep into Morse territory. Nico Estrada finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Alves converted the 2-point conversion to make it 28-25, Morse.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers drove into Komets territory. Then, with just 3:13 remaining, Cunningham’s pass was picked off by Pagget, giving the Komets another chance on offense.
Again, Alves connected on a deep pass to Pagget this time for 30 yards. When the drive stalled Nozaki came out for a 26-yard field goal attempt to tie the game. He kicked it through the uprights, however, a Morse player was offsides. Kearny accepted the penalty then head coach Will Gray called for his offense to come back onto the field and go for the win.
Estrada took the handoff to the left side of the line and the Morse defense stuffed him at the line of scrimmage to end the game.
Michael Cunningham finished the night with 20 carries for 196 yards and a touchdown. He added 73 yards passing and a touchdown.
The Tigers improved to 2-0 and will host Vista next week. Kearny fell to 1-1 and will host Montgomery next week.
High school football is growing in popularity amongst the city schools thanks in large part to the recent success of teams like the Kearny Komets (1-0) and the Morse Tigers (1-0).
Friday, Morse will host Kearny in an early-season test for both teams.
The Komets went to the Division IV title game last season and have moved up to Division III this year. After a Week 1 win over Calexico, Kearny had the week off last week.
Head coach Will Gray is in his fifth season and, despite losing a lot of his offensive talent from last season, expects his team to be explosive again this year.
At Madison is quarterback transfer Mario Alves, who threw for over 300 yards in their season-opening win along with six touchdowns. Nico Estrada, a junior, balances the offensive attack with his ability to break away at any time.
Morse won the Division III championship last season, their first in 24 years, and have moved up to Division II this year. The Tigers are also coming off a bye week after defeating Patrick Henry in their opener.
For head coach Tracy McNair, in his 11th season, the calling card of his teams has always been a run-heavy attack.
Senior Michael Cunningham led the way in their week one victory running 20 times for 187 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running backs Daniel Thornton and Jaycob Hicks combined for another 250 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
To see highlights from this game watch “1st & 15” on KUSI at 10:45 p.m. For updates on this game and the rest of the action around the county follow us on Twitter @RedJacketArmy.