FULTON – Danny Willis is only 160 pounds, but make no mistake about it: he is a powerful runner.
Willis piled up 200 yards on the ground and added 69 receiving yards in leading Morrison to a hard-fought 18-6 win over Fulton in the annual Wooden Shoe Bowl, a key Big Rivers Conference clash on Friday night at Fulton High School.
"This was my best game of the season," Willis said. "I knew I had to perform, and the guys did a great job blocking for me. I'm proud of the way I run. I'm not very big. I have to work hard. I have to push to get those extra yards."
As good as Willis was offensively, the Mustangs' defense was equally as good. Morrison (5-3), which has not lost to Fulton since 2003, kept its playoff hopes alive while dashing those of the Steamers (3-5).
The Mustangs held Fulton to four first downs, just one in the second half, and 153 yards on its Senior Night. The Steamers had just two plays that went for more than 7 yards.
"We played fanastic," Morrison's Calvin Harridge said of his team's defense. "They only got a few big plays. We were stopping them up the middle. We knew we had to keep getting stops."
The Mustangs, who piled up 322 of their 397 yards on the ground, drove to the Fulton 24 before turning the ball over on downs, fumbled at the Steamer 15, and again turned the ball over on downs, this time at the Fulton 15, on their first three possessions.
The Steamers struck first when Ethan Jones' short pass to fullback Austin Regenwether turned into a 79-yard touchdown as Regenwether broke free from Morrison defenders along the sideline and went the distance. The two-point conversion failed, but Fulton led 6-0 with 4:55 left in the first half.
The Mustangs responded with a quick 2-minute, 10-second scoring drive covering 60 yards. Willis had a 46-yard run and 17-yard reception from Matt Wilkens, who passed for 75 yards, to highlight the march that was capped by Andrew Connelly's 6-yard TD run.
The point after failed, and it was 6-6 with 2:45 left in the half. Connelly rushed for 80 yards.
Morrison grabbed the momentum for good when it got the ball back at its own 38 with just 26 seconds left in the half. Willis bolted for 31 yards on the first play. Two plays later, Wilkens found Willis wide open in the middle of the end zone with 5.8 seconds left in the half. The two-point conversion failed, but the Mustangs led 12-6 at the break.
Morrison again came up empty deep in Fulton territory on its first possession of the second half, reaching the Steamer 3 before fumbling the ball away.
The Mustangs finally put the game away with a 69-yard TD drive that took more than 7 minutes in the fourth quarter. Willis had a 17-yard run on fourth-and-2 in the middle of the series.
Connelly capped things off, powering across the goal line on fourth-and-2 with 1:44 remaining. The two-point conversion again failed, but Morrison led 18-6.
"We were right there in the fourth quarter," Fulton coach Patrick Lower said. "That's where we wanted to be, but we just couldn't get the stops when we needed them."
Star of the game: Danny Willis, Morrison, 200 rushing yards, 69 receiving yards, TD
Key performers: Andrew Connelly, Morrison, 80 rushing, 2 TDs; Austin Regenwether, Fulton, 98 total yards, TD
Up next: Bureau Valley at Morrison, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Fulton at Kewanee, 7:45 p.m. Friday