By John Howley
(Editor’s note: story edited to correct series history information.)
Amanda-Clearcreek opened the 2020 playoffs by overcoming a third-quarter deficit and holding off Morgan for a 43-24 win.
It was the 35th playoff win in school history for the Aces.
What might make this one stand out a bit is that it came after the Aces had two weeks away from the football field because of COVID 19 issues.
The Aces had a good week of practice but that they hadn’t played for a while was evident early on.
“We had three days of practice and it was three great days of practice,” AC coach Steve Daulton said. “We came out and played like a team that hadn’t played in two weeks, unfortunately. Silly turnovers that gave them opportunities to make a game of it.”
AC held a 15-10 halftime lead despite three turnovers.
The team’s fourth turnover — fumbling away the opening kickoff of the second half — set up the Raiders in good field position.
It took Morgan nine plays to cover 35 yards but when Landen Pettet got that last yard, it gave the visitor a 17-15 lead.
The score stayed there until the final play of the quarter when Peyton Cassley caught a pass from Nate Hunter and went 66 yards for a score.
The Aces widened their lead after Tayvon Miller intercepted a Morgan pass. That led to a 10-play AC drive which finished with Hunter Matheny scoring from six yards out.
While the Raiders did answer with a score on their next drive, the Aces weren’t going to let the game slip away.
On the third play of the ensuing drive, Miller broke loose for a 64-yard score.
He then grabbed another interception on the first play of Morgan’s next possession and took it back to the 10. Three plays later, Tim Smith went in from a yard out to wrap up the game’s scoring.
“In the fourth quarter, we didn’t do anything fancy we just said hey, let’s stick with what we’ve been doing since July and August,” Daulton said. “Coming off the three days, our kids just came together and said let’s take this one play at a time and it worked out for us.”
The big plays for the Aces weren’t all saved for the second half.
On AC’s first possession of the night, Hunter connected with Grant Guiler for an 85-yard touchdown.
Morgan was held in check on its next possession and then the Aces broke through to block the punt, which went out of the endzone for a safety.
Hunter also scored from a yard out in the second quarter to keep the Aces on top before halftime.
Hunter shook off two first-half interceptions to throw for 236 yards Saturday.
Matheny led the Aces on the ground with 107 yards while Cassley had three catches for 107 yards.
AC’s defense kept the Raiders’ running game in check giving up only 21 yards to the visitors. Morgan did most of its damage through the air with 260 passing yards.
Daulton said the Aces’ mistakes are things they can remedy and the way the players want to succeed for each other is why he isn’t worried about them continuing.
“They understand completely the mistakes we made. That’s all fixable,” he said. “But it’s not that they hate making a mistake, it’s that they let down their teammate next to them and the rest of the team out there.”
The Aces move into the second round of the playoffs against a very familiar opponent — cross-county rival Liberty Union.
The Aces and Lions have a history dating back to 1960, having met 45 times over the years with AC holding a 23-20-2 lead in the series.
“They’re dogfights and the record has never mattered,” Daulton said. “All these kids know each other, they grew up playing against each other. And now you add in the playoff implications – win and advance, lose and you’re done.
“We better have a great week of practice.”
Amanda-Clearcreek 43, Morgan 24
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Morgan 3 7 7 7 24
Amanda-Clearcreek 8 7 7 21
AC — Grant Guiler 85 pass from Nate Hunter (kick failed), 6:33.
AC — Blocked punt through endzone for safety, 4:06.
MO — Jordan Raines 31 field goal, 0:04.
AC — Nate Hunter 1 run (Brandon Binkley kick), 6:29.
MO — Cobey Hodge 69 pass from Gabe Altier (Jordan Raines kick), 6:03.
MO — Landen Pettet 1 run (Jordan Raines kick), 8:01.
AC — Peyton Cassley 66 pass from Nate Hunter (Brandon Binkley kick), 0:00.
AC — Hunter Matheny 6 run (Jonathan Weaver kick), 6:22.
MO — Coleman Welsh 8 pass from Levi Brown (Jordan Raines kick), 3:53.
AC — Tayvon Miller 64 run (Jonathan Weaver kick), 2:33.
AC — Tim Smith 1 run (Brandon Binkley kick), 1:52.
First downs 13 18
Rushing yards 25-21 38-206
Passing yards 260 236
Comp.-Att.-Int 21-35-3 12-20-2
Total yards 281 442
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-49 6-65
Punts-Ave. 2-33 0-0
RUSHING – Morgan — Levi Brown 2-(-7), Gabe Altier 1-(-14), Landen Petttet 13-37, Cobey Hodge 4-(-1), Alex Greuey 3-18. Amanda-Clearcreek — Hunter Matheny 18-107, Nate Hunter 12-33, Tim Smith 5-6, Grant Guiler 1-6, Tayvon Miller 1-64.
PASSING – Morgan — Levi Brown15-26-3-117, Gabe Altier 6-11-0-143. Amanda-Clearcreek — Nate Hunter 12-20-2-236.
RECEIVING – Morgan — Gabe Altier 5-75, Landen Pettet 6-13, Cobey Hodge 6-103, Karsen Mayle 2-58, Coleman Welsh 2-11. Amanda-Clearcreek — Hunter Matheny 2-8, Peyton Cassley 5-82, Grant Guiler 3-107, Tayvon Miller 1-17, Cade Young 1-30.