Rich Freeman doesn’t go for excuses, but he can’t help talking about the injuries that have overwhelmed Morehouse.
The Maroon Tigers (2-6) are on a four-game losing streak and will finish with a losing record for the second consecutive year. They were 3-7 in 2012, their first losing season since 2006.
The plague of injuries actually began last year, when Morehouse struggled to find a healthy running back at times.
It’s perhaps been worse this fall, as practically every running back and quarterback Monquavious Johnson (M.L. King) have missed time. Guard Drew Wilkins will miss the rest of the year after breaking an ankle this week.
“I’ve been coaching 18 years and I’ve never seen two seasons with so many injuries to one program,” Freeman said. “We knew we were going to be down this year from a depth standpoint, but you have to find the silver lining in it and mentor your kids. You have build on the misfortune.”
Running backs Shelton Hamilton (hand and ribs), Thomas Williams (turf toe) and Winston Bodrick (Mays), who is out for year with a torn ACL, have all missed time. Other players have missed time with various injuries.
Hamilton leads Morehouse with 442 yards rushing and Williams has rushed for seven touchdowns.
Johnson sprained his ankle earlier this month, but recovered well enough to throw for 181 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to Benedict.
“The guys are getting healthier,” Freeman said.
He partly blames the injury situation on the field conditions at the team’s practice facility and at B.T. Harvey Stadium. Freeman would like Morehouse to replace the natural turf on both fields with field turf after this season.
“We lose most of our players in practice because we tear up our field a good bit,” Freeman said. “We have to refurbish it every year. We’re almost playing on mud.”
Mercer leading rusher Payton Usher (Northgate), who has a concussion, will miss today’s game at Davidson.
JeTarri Donald will start in place of Usher, who is third in the PFL with 739 yards.
Donald rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns, including one on a 43-yard run, after Usher was injured in a win over Campbell.
The Bears (7-1, 3-1 Pioneer Football League) are second in the FCS in rushing (279 yards), tied for second in rushing defense (93.8) and are 11th in scoring offense (39.4 points).
At 7-1, Mercer has the best overall record among PFL teams, but it’s 3-1 in the conference, just behind Butler (6-3), Dayton (6-2), Marist (5-3) and San Diego (5-3), which are all 4-1.
Davidson is 0-8 and 0-5.
“Right now, it’s just overwhelming, but we’re going to continue to ride this wave, and right now, we are in the hunt,” coach Bobby Lamb said. “As we talked to our players in the team meeting, ‘Why not us? We’re here. Why not us?’ So we need to keep going.”
Georgia Military College DEs DaVonte Lambert (Burke County) and Kenderius Whitehead (M.L. King) have combined for 13½ sacks.
That’s not surprising since Lambert has committed to Tennessee and Whitehead was expected to contribute at N.C. State this year before leaving and enrolling at GMC.
Lambert has 29 tackles and seven sacks and Whitehead has 6½ sacks among his 14½ tackles for loss.
Around the state
Valdosta State (5-2) fell from No. 11 to out of the AFCA Division II poll after its second loss in three games. … Fort Valley State freshman Malcolm Eady (Swainsboro) started ahead of senior Eugene Smith at QB and finished with 107 yards rushing and 167 passing in a win over Concordia-Selma. … Clark Atlanta LB Bre’nard Williams (Tift County) is tied for 27th in Division II with 73 tackles, 10.4 a game. … Albany State’s Victor Moli (Glenn Hills), a three-year starter, is the SIAC OL of the week. … Freshman LB Jordan Chambers (Kell) has 56 tackles, two sacks, 7½ tackles for loss and two forced fumbles for LaGrange. … GMC RB Jovon Robinson leads the NJCAA with 1,678 yards – 412 ahead of the second-leading rusher — and 23 TDs. … Valdosta State LB Chris Pope (Jackson) moved past former Falcons LB Jessie Tuggle into second on the school’s career tackles list. He has 343 to trail current Minnesota Vikings LB Larry Dean, who had 368 from 2007-10.
West Georgia 28 Florida Tech 14
Ave Maria at Point, noon
Furman at Georgia Southern, 1 p.m.
Mercer at Davidson, 1 p.m.
Georgia Military at Concordia, 1 p.m.
Benedict at Albany State, 2 p.m.
Berry at Millsaps, 2 p.m.
S.C. State at Savannah State, 2 p.m.
Valdosta State at Delta State, 5 p.m.
Shorter at Clark Atlanta, 6 p.m.
Morehouse at Fort Valley State, 6 p.m.
Christopher Newport at LaGrange, 6 p.m.