Time on Dunlap’s side at Morton

Lonnie Scwindenhammer
Conner Currier (22) scores on a 15 yard run on fourth down with 6:17 left in the second quarter.

On its heels for most of the second half, the Dunlap defense stiffened late and the visiting Eagles escaped Carper Field with a 26-19 win over Morton on Friday in the Mid-Illini Conference opener for both.

Dunlap (3-0, 1-0) did all its scoring before halftime.

Morton (2-1, 0-1) did all its scoring after intermission, and faced a fourth-and-5 at the Dunlap 19 with 1:25 to play.

On fourth down, Morton junior quarterback David Rossi got around the left end but was stopped short of a first down by a yard.

Dunlap took over and ran out the clock.

“When everything was against us, our kids made a stand,” Dunlap coach Brett Cazalet said.

Dunlap corner back Derrick Smith said the stop was a group effort.

“He broke one tackle, but then we had a mass of guys right there to take him down,” Smith said.

Senior quarterback Connor Currier led the way for Dunlap, running for one touchdown and passing for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

His 47-yard TD pass to sophomore Davion McManis, on a third-and-17 play, helped put Dunlap up 7-0 with 4:11 to play in the first quarter.

Currier’s 15-yard TD run capped an eight-play drive that covered 48 yards and put the visitors up 14-0 in the second quarter.

Dunlap junior running back Byron Jordan scored on a 7-yard TD run, one play after Currier had found Smith for a 16-yard pass play on third and eight.

Dunlap capitalized on a Morton fumble late in the first half, and Currier fired a 23-yard TD pass to Smith to give Dunlap a 26-0 lead at halftime.

“We came out in the first half and everything was clicking,” Currier said. “We were able to run the ball, and that opened up the pass.”

Currier finished with 179 yards passing. Jordan rushed for 60 yards.

Morton got on the scoreboard on a 4-yard TD pass from David Rossi to Dakota Hill. The first of two 40-yard field goals for Connor Kindred cut Morton’s deficit to 26-10.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Morton senior tight end Kyle Hoefft’s driving grab of a Rossi pass went for a 3-yard TD that pulled the Potters to within 26-16.

Kindred booted another 40-yarder to make the score 26-19 with 5:59 to play.

Morton got a defensive stop and took its final possession with 2:55 to play.

The stop of Rossi on fourth down ended the series for Morton.

“We got too far down and we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves,” Morton coach Jason Thiry said. “We fought and showed some pride, but a lot of lessons were learned tonight.”

Rossi threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

Fernandez Bjork of Morton led all rushers with 63 yards on 12 carries.