Last week was quarterback Nick Gizzo’s turn to shine for Fox Chapel. This week belonged to Micah Morris.
Morris, the 6-foot-2, 230 pound senior running back, pounded out 195 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries, and Fox Chapel wore down Hampton for a 41-23 homecoming win Friday in a key game in the Allegheny Nine playoff hunt.
A week after Gizzo ran for 312 yards in a win against Moon, Morris got the call more often than not on the read-option plays that form the basis of the Foxes offense. Gizzo capped the scoring with a 14-yard scoring run to finish with 57 yards on nine carries.
“Our offense is set up to take what the defense is giving us. Last week, it was Gizzo on the zone-read stuff, and this week, it was Micah running the ball straight at them with power,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said. “We felt our offensive line was doing a great job, and we wanted to continue to do that as the game went on.”
The Talbots had the upper hand early after Max Obenrader intercepted a Gizzo pass on the opening drive. Brandon Stephany started the scoring on a 45-yard touchdown run, but after Morris got his first touchdown from 6 yards out, Stephany hauled in a 37-yard deep ball from Ross Andersson to give Hampton a 14-7 lead.
The Foxes defense then began to get a foothold in the game, and Morris scored on runs of 27 and 6 yards for a 21-14 lead.
“We made some adjustments. They came out in some formations that we were not unprepared for, but maybe didn’t expect,” Loughran said. “We kind of got regrouped and got lined up properly, and once we did that, we were much better off.”
Hampton (2-5, 2-3) was able to tack on a 29-yard Harper Cook field goal to end the half — set up by an Andersson one-handed interception of Gizzo — but the Foxes (3-4, 3-3) were starting to take control, and it carried into the third quarter.
Hampton went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the third quarter, and each time, Fox Chapel took advantage of a short field to score on five-play drives with Morris finding paydirt for a 34-17 lead.
“There’s 48 minutes, and sometimes we only play 38 or 40 minutes of football,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “Sometimes, that eight minutes kills us.”
Penalty issues weren’t solely Hampton’s problem. The Talbots were penalized 10 times for 103 yards, while Fox Chapel was flagged 14 times for 135 yards.
Hampton cut the lead to 34-23 with 8:35 remaining on an 18-yard reception by Jack Bish from Andersson, and they got the ball back with a chance to cut the lead to single digits, but a sack and an 8-yard loss on a run forced the Talbots to punt on fourth-and-11 with 4:28 remaining.
The win moves the Foxes into the top four in the Allegheny Nine, and they close out conference play with a chance to clinch a playoff spot by beating Baldwin and Chartiers Valley, the bottom two teams in the section.
“We’re in control of our path, and that’s where we wanted to be,” Loughran said. “We know the two teams we have left are still good conference foes, so we have to be ready to play. Our kids our smart. They know what the deal is. After we lost to Upper St. Clair, we said we had to win our last four to get in. We’ve got two, and now we have two to go.”