Blue Jays Lose Heartbreaker

Photo by Caleb Maassen.
Photo by Caleb Maassen.

Morris, MN, 10/2/21 – The Blue Jay football team made the ten-hour drive to Morris, MN to take on the University of Minnesota at Morris Cougars in search of their first UMAC win of the season.   It was both teams conference opener.  Both teams' offenses were clicking today but, in the end, the Blue Jays would barely miss a potential game tying field goal with 22 seconds to play and the Cougars would escape with a 38-35 win over the Blue Jays.  The loss drops the Blue Jays to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the UMAC.  Morris improves to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the UMAC.

The game started off pretty good for the Blue Jays as they would hold the Cougars on their first possession and force a punt.  The Blue Jay offense would take over on their 37-yard line after the punt and would go on a nine play forty-yard drive.  The key plays were a Wyatt Ellis (Owensville, Mo. / Owensville) pass completion to Trey King (Fort Worth, TX / Richland) for 14 yards and an Ellis 14-yard rush.  Facing a 4th and 6 from the Cougar 23-yard line Tim Branneky (St. Louis, Mo. / Lutheran High School North) came on to try the 41-yard field goal.  Unfortunately, his attempt was wide left keeping the game 0-0.

The Cougars got on the board on the next play from scrimmage Blake Johnson would take the ball and run for a 77-yard touchdown. The extra point was good and that made it 7-0 in favor of the Cougars. The next Blue Jay possession ended when an Ellis pass was intercepted by the Cougars and returned 39 yards into Westminster Territory. On second and ten from the Westminster 31 Garrett Elison took a handoff and took it 31 yards for the second Cougar touchdown and the PAT was good and the Blue Jays found themselves down 14-0.

The Blue Jays would get on the board on their next drive.  They would go 66 yards on seven plays.  A Ben Wallace 17-yard run and a 14-yard Ellis completion to Will Allen reception were the big plays.  Those set up freshman Logen Walker (Mountain Home, AR / Mountain Home) who took a jet sweep 14 yards for the first Blue Jay touchdown.  Branneky would nail the extra point attempt and the Jays had cut the lead to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The next Morris drive would go for 66 yards on 14 plays and end with a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-7 early in the second quarter.  The Blue Jays would counter on their next drive as they would run for 40 yards on eight carries during the drive that would end with an Ellis nine-yard touchdown pass to Trey King and the extra point would cut the lead to 17-14.

The next Morris possession would end with a 10-yard touchdown run increasing the lead to 24-14.  The Blue Jays would start their next drive with 2:50 to play before the half needing a score to keep pace with the Cougars. They got that score when Ellis found King again for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Branneky's third extra point of the day cut the lead to 24-21 as we would head to the half.

The Blue Jays got the ball first in the third quarter but a Wyatt Robinson (Harrisburg, MO / Harrisburg) fumble, as he was trying to get a first down on a fourth and one play, that gave the ball back to the Cougars at midfield.  Six plays later the Cougars threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to pad their lead to 31-21.

The next drive by the Blue Jays went 71 yards on ten plays for a Jays score.  Ellis would toss his third touchdown pass when he hit freshman Elijah Teal (Memphis, TN / Whitehaven) for a 13-yard touchdown. The Branneky point after would cut the lead to 31-28. 

The Cougars would score their final touchdown early in the fourth quarter to take a 38-28 lead.  The two teams would trade punts on their next possessions.  Westminster would take over a drive with 9:28 left to go in the game desperate for a score.  They would march 80 yards in eight plays in just over three minutes scoring on Ellis fourth touchdown pass, this one an eight-yard strike to Logen Walker, his second score of the game. 

The Blue Jay defense would stand up and force a Cougar punt but the Cougars managed to kill 3 minutes of the clock.  The Blue Jays took over after the Cougar punt with only 2:59 left in the game down by three.  They would cover 52 yards on 12 plays over 2:39. The Blue Jays would face a fourth and ten from the Cougar 29-yard line with :22 left in the game.  The Blue Jays would elect to try to kick the game tying field goal.  Branneky would line up for the 46 yarder.  It had the leg but the ball just barely sailed wide left.   The Cougars would take over and after a kneel down escape with a 38-35 win.

Ellis finished 16-29 for 204 yards and four touchdowns.  King lead the Blue Jay receiving corps with six catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor Dobbins (Laurie, Mo. / Versailles) had a workman like effort carrying the ball 26 times for 126 yards while Ellis ran for 102 yards on 12 carries. Westminster outgained the Cougars 464 yards of total offense to 412 yards.  The difference was in the turnover battle where Morris had two takeaways that both led to short fields and scores.

The Blue Jay defense was led by freshman Garrett Burger (California, MO / California R-1) who made 8 tackles. Senior defensive end Justin Scales (St. Louis, Mo. / Trinity Catholic) and freshman defensive tackle Trevor Hamblin (Sullivan, MO / Sullivan) each had one tackle for a loss.

The Blue Jays have a bye week this coming weekend.  They will be back home on October 16th for a matchup with their UMAC rivals the Greenville University Panthers. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. kick off.