ASHWAUBENON — Friday night the top spot in the Fox River Classic Conference was on the line as Bay Port traveled to Ashwaubenon and this game likely was going to be determined by how Bay Port would defend the pass.
Bay Port’s defense entered the game allowing just 68 passing yards per game, a big reason why the Pirates were 6-0 on the season, while Ashwaubenon QB James Morgan entered with 17 TD passes and was averaging 209 passing yards per game, also a big reason why the Jaguars were 6-0.
Who would pass this test?
As it turns out, Ashwaubenon.
Morgan put on a show, completing 22 of 44 passes for 424 yards with three TDs and even rushed for one TD as the Jaguars, ranked No. 7 in the FOX 11 Top 11, defeated the No. 5 Pirates, 28-14, on homecoming at Goelz Field, and took sole possession of first place in the FRCC.
“We feel really fortunate coming out of it,” Ashwaubenon coach Mark Jonas said. “The kids played with incredible toughness.”
Early on it was obvious Morgan’s right arm would, at least on offense, be the key for the Jaguars. Bay Port’s defensive front bottled up the run most of the night as Ashwaubenon’s longest run was a 15-yard scramble by Morgan.
In some ways that played to Ashwaubenon’s advantage because it meant Morgan would be passing more. Morgan is ranked as a top-10 junior pocket quarterback in the country and he showed why.
He completed all kinds of passes – fades, screens, bombs, slants comebacks – and his ability to throw every pass put tremendous pressure on Bay Port.
“Coach always says control what you can control,” Morgan said. “I was just going to go through my reads. When they give me time like that and our receivers run routes they do and Jake (Zills) sets up us with the run, it’s just awesome.”
Morgan didn’t do it alone, though. He completed an 80-yard TD pass to Jake Imig, who had about 65 yards after the catch, he connected on screens, where his receivers got plenty of yards after the catch.
Still, he threw some beautiful passes, like the one in the back of the end zone to Nathan Jarvis for a 9-yard score. Jarvis had two defenders in front of him and Morgan lofted a perfect strike over them.
Also, on a second-and-22 from the Ashwaubenon 2-yard line, Morgan hit Imig in stride for 58 yards.
These were “headshakers,” where you just shake you head afterwards in amazement.
Morgan always deflects praise when asked about his play, and said it just wasn’t him.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” he said. “Just the way they blocked and opened up holes for me and Jake and the way Jake ran and the way our receivers just caught them and went up. Our line was hurting and they pushed through, especially against such a prestigious defense, too.”
Jonas also talked about the receivers, saying, “James put the ball in some tight spots and our receivers came up with some great catches. They did a really good job after the catch. I thought our offensive line kept James clean overall. If you have a kid that talented and he’s not getting pressured much, that’s what he can do.”
While Morgan’s passing was the story, what can’t be overlooked was Ashwaubenon’s defense. Bay Port entered the game averaging 40.5 points per game and never got going like it’s used to.
Linebacker Kyle Mrozinski was all over the field for Ashwaubenon and Jarvis had two sacks and blocked a punt.
“Defense did a great job,” Morgan said. “They have such a high-powered offense. I’m so proud of them.”
Ashwaubenon has two games left in the regular season – at Sheboygan South and at Notre Dame – so no conference title has been won yet. Jonas said nothing changes next week as his team prepares for South.
“We’ll continue the same message; No. 1 have fun and do all the right things in order to put yourself in position to win,” Jonas said. “The kids are hungry for it, we’ll just try to feed them.”
Morgan enjoyed Friday, but he’s on the same page with his coach.
“That’s the thing it’s two games,” he said. “We can’t let up. It feels good. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so proud of our guys.”
- Notes: Imig had 7 catches for 191 yards. … Ashwaubenon last won an FRCC title in 2010. … Morgan’s previous season-high for passing yards was 272 last week. He has 20 TDs and 5 INTs. … Bay Port’s Brennan Warner prevented a TD pass when he picked off a pass in the end zone. … Bay Port's Blair Van Ess had 9 catches for 161 yards, including a 34-yard TD catch.
- Game ball: Morgan, who was too much for Bay Port.
- Numbers game: 424 Passing yards for Morgan.
ASH: James Morgan 80-yard pass to Jake Imig (kick good). ASH: 7-0
BP: Kolton Huff 5-yard run (kick good). Tied: 7-7.
ASH: Morgan 4-yard pass to Zak Imig (kick failed). ASH: 13-7.
ASH: Morgan 9-yard pass to Nathan Jarvis (pass good). ASH: 21-7.
BP: Blair Van Ess 34-yard pass from Alec Ingold (kick good). ASH: 21-14.
ASH: Morgan 4-yard run (kick good). ASH: 28-14.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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