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Morrisville hopes to turn the Thanksgiving Day tide against Bristol (VIDEO)

MORRISVILLE >> After going two years without a win, Morrisville got off to a 2-1 start this season. But the Bulldogs haven’t fared nearly as well of late, dropping eight straight including all six of its Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) contests.

Morrisville is hoping for its first win in a BAL contest on Thanksgiving Day against Bristol. Kickoff is 10:30 a.m. at the home of the Warriors.

Bristol won the Turkey Day game 53-6 last year and 67-8 in a 2013 regular season contest. The Warriors have won 15 of the last 16 Thanksgiving Day battles with the Bulldogs dating back to 1998 including last year’s 53-7 win at Robert Morris Stadium.

“Recently they’ve dominated but things change,” said Morrisville defensive captain Joe Jacobs, whose brother Billy was part of the last Bulldog team to win on Thanksgiving. “I think we have a chance this year; we’ll see what happens.”

While the ‘Dawgs haven’t won a game since a mid-September thrashing of Immaculate Conception, head coach Derrick Savage has them playing a better brand of football than in recent years. Only a failed two-point conversion stood between Morrisville and victory in the team’s recent 1-point loss to Strawberry Mansion.

“I think we’ve taken a step up; I don’t think our record shows it,” added Jacobs. “But in our game play, it shows.

“Every once in a while, we miss our blocks and make some mistakes. I think if we get that all situated, we can put up a fight.”

Listed as the fourth oldest rivalry in the Keystone State, the Thanksgiving Day gridiron rivalry between the two schools goes back to 1928 when the Warriors notched the first of nine straight wins over the Bulldogs.

Leading Morrisville’s offense onto the field this year is senior quarterback Mike Sacco. A second-year varsity starter, Sacco has thrown for over 715 yards this season, an average of 65 yards-per-game. Mike’s leading target is junior Braedon Alward. The wide receiver has caught 28 passes good for 398 yards and six touchdowns.

Leading the Bulldog rushing attack are senior Josh Smith and junior Zymir Williams. Smith has 679 yards rushing on 134 carries while Williams has 477 on 100 rushes. Smith will probably get the bulk of the carries because Williams is not expected to play on Thanksgiving, a big blow to Morrisville’s cause.

If the Bulldogs hope to win, they have to limit turnovers and keep penalties to a minimum, two areas where Morrisville has struggled in the past.

In their last loss to Strawberry Mansion, the Bulldogs committed five turnovers and put the ball on the ground seven times including a fumble on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Morrisville also hurt its chances by committing 99 yards worth of penalties. Four times, the Dawgs squandered possessions that started on the Knights’ side of the 50-yard line, three of which were giveaways.

“Our defense would give us shots to drive down the field and score,” said Alward. “But when our offense got the ball, the turnovers just killed us.”

The Thanksgiving Day game against Morrisville has been cancelled more than once including 2001 when the Bulldogs failed to field a varsity team. The Warriors forfeited the game in 2012 because of a state playoff run and Morrisville passed in 2013 due to a lack of personnel.

“When we have the game, everyone comes out to supports us,” said Alward. “Not having the game is a weird feeling; it’s hard to explain. We look forward to playing Bristol every Thanksgiving.

“It’s tradition.”

The Warriors lead the Thanksgiving series, 50-35-2 (including two forfeit wins) and enter the battle at 5-6 this season after a District 1-AA semifinal loss to Springfield. The Bulldogs last won the Thanksgiving Day game in 1998 when quarterback Billy Jacobs led Morrisville to a 19-2 triumph.

On a muddy field Nov. 27, 1998 at Bristol, with neither team mounting much offense, Bulldogs junior linebacker Juan Jones intercepted a pair of balls thrown by Warriors QB Paul Nieves and returned them both for touchdowns, staking Morrisville to a 12-0 halftime lead. Teammate John Smith picked off another pass and returned it for a touchdown with 1:10 left in the game for the Dawgs’ final score.

NOTES: Joe Jacobs is dedicating his performance in the Thanksgiving Day game to his brother Billy, who passed away in January. Morrisville also won by forfeit in 2012.

Contact the author at ssherman@buckslocalnews.com, OR @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

BRISTOL/MORRISVILLE FOOTBALL SERIES (Bristol leads series, 50-35-2)

1928 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0

1929 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0

1930 – Bristol 32, Morrisville 2

1931 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 6

1932 – Bristol 13, Morrisville 6

1933 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 0

1934 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0

1935 – Bristol 20, Morrisville 0

1936 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0

1937 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 6

1938 – Morrisville 8, Bristol 7

1939 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0

1940 – Bristol 6, Morrisville 6

1941 – Bristol 13, Morrisville 6

1942 – Morrisville 13, Bristol 0

1943 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 0

1944 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0

1945 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 7

1946 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 0

1947 – Morrisville 12, Bristol 0

1948 – Bristol 32, Morrisville 13

1949 – Morrisville 33, Bristol 6

1950 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 14 (tie)

1951 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 13

1952 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 19

1953 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 0

1954 – Morrisville 25, Bristol 0

1955 – Bristol 7, Morrisville 7 (tie)

1956 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 0

1957 – Morrisville 28, Bristol 0

1958 – Morrisville 38, Bristol 7

1959 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 6

1960 – Morrisville 40, Bristol 6

1961 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 6

1962 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0

1963 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 0

1964 – Bristol 19, Morrisville 18

1965 – Bristol 35, Morrisville 12

1966 – Bristol 41, Morrisville 0

1967 – Bristol 46, Morrisville 13

1968 – Bristol 43, Morrisville 7

1969 – Morrisville 41, Bristol 6

1970 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 14

1971 – Morrisville 30, Bristol 0

1972 – Morrisville 18, Bristol 8

1973 – Morrisville 6, Bristol 0

1974 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 12

1975 – Bristol 9, Morrisville 0

1976 – Morrisville 26, Bristol 0

1977 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 0

1978 – Morrisville 32, Bristol 14

1979 – Morrisville 22, Bristol 7

1980 – Bristol 26, Morrisville 0

1981 – Morrisville 32, Bristol 14

1982 – Bristol 31, Morrisville 22

1983 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 8

1984 – Morrisville 33, Bristol 6

1985 – Morrisville 10, Bristol 6

1986 – Bristol 12, Morrisville 0

1987 – Morrisville 7, Bristol 6

1988 – Bristol 18, Morrisville 6

1989 – Morrisville 41, Bristol 8

1990 – Bristol 35, Morrisville 6

1991 – Morrisville 23, Bristol 7

1992 – Morrisville 14, Bristol 0

1993 – Bristol 34, Morrisville 8

1994 – Bristol 31, Morrisville 14

1995 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 0

1996 – Bristol 34, Morrisville 18

1997 – Morrisville 20, Bristol 18

1998 – Morrisville 19, Bristol 2

1999 – Bristol 41, Morrisville 0

2000 – Bristol 57, Morrisville 16

2001 – Bristol 2, Morrisville 0 (fft.)

2002 – Bristol 39, Morrisville 0

2003 – Bristol 49, Morrisville 12

2004 – Bristol 38, Morrisville 6

2005 – Bristol 21, Morrisville 0

2006 – Bristol 14, Morrisville 0

2007 – Bristol 28, Morrisville 0

2008 – Bristol 44, Morrisville 7

2009 – Bristol 55, Morrisville 20

2010 – Bristol 48, Morrisville 27

2011 – Bristol 40, Morrisville 0

2012 – Morrisville 2, Bristol 0 (fft.)

2013 – Bristol 2, Morrisville 0 (fft.)

2014 – Bristol 53, Morrisville 6

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