MANLIUS - The brown football hit the green grass and everything changed Friday.
Something went wrong Bureau Valley's second play of Friday's football game. It was a handoff from Bureau Valley senior quarterback John King's to senior running back Michael Weidner.
The exchange ended with neither player possessing the ball.
King let go of the ball, it caromed off Weidner and dropped to the ground.
Morrison sophomore Alec Klimson recovered the fumble.
Klimson's recovery gave the Mustangs possession at Bureau Valley's 39-yard line with just 56 seconds elapsed.
Bureau Valley fought the rest of Friday's game to recover from that mistake.
Morrison scored from the 39 for an early six-point lead. The touchdown put Morrison on its way to beating Bureau Valley 42-14 in Big Rivers Conference action.
"We didn't execute, and they did," said Bureau Valley head football coach Jeff Ohlson. "We turn the ball over the second play of the game. The first play of the game we got 7 yards, and the second play we fumble. It was that way all night. We didn't execute up front; we didn't execute in the backfield; and our defense didn't execute."
Morrison, ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press in Class 2A, needed just four plays to turn the Bureau Valley fumble into a 6-0 lead.
"Right from the start, we fumbled that second play and they scored. That takes a lot of the wind out of you," King said. "We came back and battled back and were still there at the half."
It took nearly the entire first half for the Storm to get their wind back.
Morrison built a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter. Morrison senior Josh Vos scored the third touchdown - also his third of the game - with 2 minutes, 13 seconds left in the second quarter.
Bureau Valley came back with a strong response.
The Storm drove 66-yards in 1:24. The eighth play of the drive was a 15-yard touchdown pass from King to senior Austin Peterson.
"We just threw the ball up to Austin and let him be an athlete," King said. "He's probably one of the best ends in the area. â€¦ We just utilized Austin on that drive."
Peterson had two catches for 28 yards on the drive.
The longest play of the drive was a 22-yard pass to senior Ryan Hix, but it was a costly play. Hix separated a shoulder on the play, and he was done for the rest of the game.
Peterson caught the touchdown pass with 37.8 second left in the first half, and it made the halftime score 21-6.
"Austin made a couple great catches there, and on the touchdown, he made a heck of a catch," Ohlson said. "The drive only cut it back to two scores. We came right back and gave it right back to them to start the second half."
Morrison scored the opening drive of the second half. The Mustangs used just five plays to travel 59 yards for touchdown No. 4 and a 27-6 lead.
Weidner needed just one play to answer.
Bureau Valley's first play of the ensuing drive was a 67-yard touchdown run by Weidner. His touchdown made the score 27-14 with 9:03 remained in the third quarter.
"He broke a couple tackles and made a run and got us back within two scores," Ohlson said. "If we hadn't given up the one to start the third quarter, then we're only down one score. We just played catch-up all night long, and you can't do that against these teams."
The score remained 27-14 until Morrison added two touchdowns during the last six minutes of the game.
Morrison's win essentially clinched the Mustangs the Big Rivers Conference title. Morrison is 7-0 overall and 7-0 in the Big Rivers.
The two opponents remaining are Erie-Prophetstown and Fulton, which are both at the bottom of the conference standings.
Bureau Valley falls to 5-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big Rivers.
"You have the No. 1 team in the state of Illinois come to your house, and it's a big game," Peterson said. "We just didn't put four quarters together like we should have."
Notes: Bureau Valley is ranked No. 5 in Class 2A by the AP. â€¦ Weidner had the most total yards Friday for Bureau Valley. He had 94 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards. Bureau Valley had 243 yards of total offense. â€¦ Vos led Morrison offensively with three rushing touchdowns and 136 rushing yards on 19 carries. Morrison finished with 391 yards of total offense.
Erik Hall can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 195, or at email@example.com.