Morris cleans up play in 2nd half, defeats Woodstock North

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WOODSTOCK - Morris faced two opponents at times Friday night.

Not only did the No. 3-ranked team in Class 4A take on Woodstock North, Morris found another adversary: itself, courtesy of 10 first-half penalties for 100 yards.

But the guests came out after halftime, eliminated their self-destructive ways and scored 21 third-quarter points en route to a 49-7 Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White Division triumph.

Morris (4-0, 2-0) hurt itself time and again in the opening 24 minutes with penalties, including one that called back a touchdown. However, thanks to the strong running 0f Jacob Swartz (15 carries, 148 yards, 2 TD) and a solid defense, Morris was able to blow the game open in the second half.

“We made some bad plays, some sloppy plays. We put ourselves in some tough spots and we slowed ourselves down,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “But after that slow start, we talked at halftime. We challenged the kids. We got on them. We have high expectations here and they came out and played much better football in the second half.’’

Swartz, a shifty 5-11, 175-pound senior, scored on runs of 15 and 6 yards, and tallied 141 of his yards before halftime. On the night, Morris rushed for 245 yards and added another 206 through the air.

“The coaches talked to us (at halftime), but the players talked a lot, too. We talked about controlling what we could control,” Swartz said. “On both sides of the ball and special teams, we feel we have what it takes to win a state championship, but to do that we have to make sure we battle all the time and don’t get down on each other.”

Morris scored on its first drive of the night on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Carter Button (11-of-17, 191 yards, 2 TDs) to Jack Wheeler. Button later found Ethan Mumbrue for a 68-yard score just before halftime that gave the visitors a 28-0 lead at intermission.

Griffin Zweeres opened the scoring in the third with an 18-yard run and A.J. Zweeres took a punt back 54 yards for a 42-0 lead. Lineman Vaughn Mills got into the scoring act when he bulled in from 2 yards out.

The Morris defense limited the Thunder (1-3, 0-2) to 128 total yards, but 54 of those yards came when quarterback Landan Creighton broke loose for a long score. Outside of that run, the Thunder managed just 53 total yards.

“I was pleased with our first-half defense, but we just couldn’t execute offensively. The defense kept us close in the first quarter,” North coach Matt Polnow said. “But in the second half, they started moving the ball and things got easier for them. Still, I’m proud of how we made them work for it.”