0927kirkAUDJackson County coach Billy Kirk discusses the Panthers' 34-6 loss against Morgan County on Friday in Jefferson.
JEFFERSON -- Every young football team in a new region has to start somewhere, and for Jackson County, it started with a 34-6 loss to Morgan County on Friday in Jefferson.
The loss is the Panthers' first in Region 8-AAA game after moving down from Class AAAA this season.
The same can be said for Morgan County (1-3), which moved up from 8-AA where it finished 8-4 in 2007.
"We reverted back to the old Jackson County tonight," Jackson County coach Billy Kirk said, referring his team's 0-10 finish in Region 8-AAAA last season. "We're building for our future, and our youth continues to show that."
The Panthers (1-2-1, 0-1 Region 8-AAA) were limited to 104 yards of total offense, including 34 rushing yards.
Their only score of the game was a 77-yard reception from back-up quarterback Nick Oney to junior receiver Marquice Gillespie in the third quarter.
"I just told myself that we can't get shut out," Gillespie said. "I'm a play maker on this team and people were looking to me to score."
Morgan County had far more offensive success than Jackson County did, especially with its passing game. Quarterback J.D. Hawkins was 13-for-19 passing with 253 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 40 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Hawkins had plenty of targets to throw to. Junior receivers Domonique Hall and Terence Harper combined for 225 receiving yards on 11 receptions for the Bulldogs.
"They were better than us at every position," Kirk said. "We are not a Class AAA team yet. We are still a Class AA team at best."
Morgan County scored on the first drive of the game when Ryan Glosson scored a 7-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
Glosson scored another touchdown with two seconds left in the first quarter, this time from 11 yards out, putting Morgan County up by 12 after the two-point conversion failed. Glosson finished the game with 58 yards on 18 carries.
Morgan County took at 20-point lead before halftime when Hawkins found Hall open down field for a 43-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Jackson County offense struggled to compete, gaining only 21 yards of total offense in the first half and picking up only one first down.
"We're not very good right now, but the future is bright at Jackson County," Kirk said. "We're still coming out every Friday to compete."
The Panthers entered the second half on a brighter note, blocking a Morgan County punt to spot the ball on the Bulldogs' 24. But the Panthers were unable to find the end zone, and turned the ball over on four plays, farther back than where they started.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, Jackson County finally scored when Oney, who was playing after starting quarterback Alex Crawford left with a concussion earlier in the quarter, flipped a screen pass to Gillespie, who took it 77 yards for a touchdown.
But Morgan County scored on the first play of the next drive, when Hawkins connected with Harper for a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Hawkins found Harper again in the fourth quarter for a 6-yard touchdown and the final score of the game.
Jackson County looks to rebound from the loss and earn its first region win when the Panthers visit Hart County at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.