Harlem's homecoming queen got her moment at halftime Friday, but the homecoming king was the main attraction most of the night.
Bulldogs senior quarterback Zach Morris and a slew of special teams plays helped Harlem beat Butler 34-14. The victory was Harlem's second of the season and first at home. It extended Butler's losing streak to 39 games.
Harlem (2-6, 2-5 Region 3-AAAA) recovered a Butler fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, benefited from multiple short punts and scored on a fake field goal.
"We preached it all year, every day," Butler coach Ashley Harden said of special teams play. "It came back to bite us in the butt."
Morris was voted homecoming king by his peers before the game. Senior teammate Forrest Christian was runner-up.
By the end of the first quarter, Morris had rushed for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Butler (0-8, 0-6) slowed Morris in the second half, but it did not notice when Morris entered the game late in the third quarter to hold for what would have been a 19-yard field goal attempt.
Morris received the snap, scrambled back and lobbed a pass to a wide-open Tyler James in the back of the end zone.
Coach Jimmie Lewis said the Bulldogs worked on the play all week in practice, but he thought they had gained enough for the first down the previous play. The chains didn't move, and Lewis was forced to use a timeout when the clock started. The players knew before they reached the sideline what play would be called.
"It just happened perfect," Morris said.
The touchdown gave Harlem a cushion after Butler pulled to within 20-14 on Clayton Johnson's 25-yard touchdown pass.
The game was close enough at that point to worry Lewis,
"I'm doing good now," Lewis said. "I was about to have a heart attack in the second half."
Before the game, Harlem honored members of its first football team, which played its first season in 1958. Team members included E.G. Meybohm, Pierce Blanchard and Hardy King, who earned a scholarship to play at the University of Georgia. Each of the team's members were introduced on the track and received a plaque from Lewis.
Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165, ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HARLEM 34, BUTLER 14
PLAY OF THE GAME: In danger of letting its lead slip away late in the third quarter, Harlem responded with a touchdown on a pass from senior Zach Morris to Tyler James on a fake field goal. The score put Harlem up by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Morris slowed after rushing for 100 yards in the first quarter, but the homecoming king was the MVP of Harlem's second win of the season.
WHY HARLEM WON: It stuck to its ground attack and took advantage of gift-wrapped opportunities in the second half.
WHY BUTLER LOST: Coach Ashley Harden said he and his staff have worked on special teams all season. They likely will continue to do that after several miscues kept Butler from its first victory of the season.
NEXT: Butler plays host to Lakeside, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Harlem at Josey, Friday, 7:30 p.m.