TURNER — It was a bit of a frustrating first half Friday night.
Though Leavitt took an early lead against Morse, the Hornets had other opportunities to open up the lead. Instead, Leavitt went to the half only up a touchdown.
"We could have come out strong and could have looked a little better," said junior back Josh Faunce. "Stuff like that happens. We made sure we went to work on things and fixed it in the second half."
The adjustments the Hornets made in the locker room at halftime paid off in the second half. The evidence came quickly as Leavitt set the tone with a scoring drive that doubled the lead. The Hornets never looked back in a 28-7 win.
"They hd some good play out of their front and had a good scheme going on," said Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway. "It took us a little while to figure out what was going to work. We made some good adjustments at halftime. The kids executed that first drive."
That made the score 14-0. Leavitt made it 22-0 early in the fourth before Morse got its only score. The Hornets had a Clay Rowland interception and a fourth-down stop at midfield that halted any comeback hopes for the Shipbuilders.
"Leavitt is a very sound defensive team," said Morse coach Jason Darling. "They know how to wrap up and tackle and get to the ball. We certainly had our chances and just didn't execute."
Leavitt scored on its first possession, after stopping a lengthy Morse drive. Tyler Chicoine hooked up with Brian Bedard on a 4-yard pass play to start the second quarter for a 6-0 lead.
Leavitt had another chance but that drive got to the 7 before an interception nixed that opportunity.
During halftime, the Hornets adjusted their blocking schemes. Morse linebacker Liam McDonough had wreaked havoc in the first half. The Hornets knew they needed to counter that defensive push.
Leavitt did just that to start the second half. The Hornets used eight plays as Faunce carried the ball for 49 yards on the drive. He finished it off scoring from the 9 with 8:45 left in the third. Faunce finished with 161 yards on 20 carriers.
"We figured out what the defense was doing and tried to adjust to that," said Faunce. "We executed our running plays. The linemen did a perfect job executing and it ended up going in our favor."
Morse had a chance to rally on its next two possession. Leavitt stopped them on fourth-and-four at midfield when a pass went incomplete. Then after Leavitt was stopped on its next possession, Morse got as close as the 19 before Rowland's interception ended that chance.
"I thought we had to force the issue a little bit," said Darling of his fourth down try at midfield. "We couldn't wait around much more."
Leavitt then marched 92 yards on a scoring drive that made it 22-0 with 9:07 left in the fourth. Faunce took it in over the left side from the 8.
"There were some long and sustained drives in the second half," said Hathaway. "Tyler did a good job reading when he should give it and when he should keep it. Then I thought he was excellent on play action."
Morse got a quick score when D'Vaughn Myers broke one for 46 yards with 8:42 left. Leavitt answered that with another drive that was finished off with 3:23 remaining. Chicoine found Sam Green in the right corner of the end zone on an 8-yard pass play. Green made a nice leaping grab for the score.
Leavitt rushed for 244 yards in the second half, after just 97 in the first. Chicoine finished with 107 yards on 14 carriers while Bedard added 72 on 14 tries. Myers finished with 98 on eight carries for Morse, which finished with 165 yards on the ground.
"We always try to come out in the second half fighting," said Faunce. "We've had a rough time in the past coming out and executing but we pulled together as a team and came out fighting hard."