Donovan Morgan went out of his way to help the New Orleans VooDoo win its first game since late March.
Morgan’s spectacular Saturday night against the Cleveland Gladiators was highlighted among two of his four touchdowns catches. On the scoring plays, his momentum forced him to fall over the three-foot walls behind the end zones.
His troubles, though, were worth the effort. The VooDoo won 69-40 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, ending their losing streak at eight games. And Morgan finished with eight catches and 127 yards, more than enough offense in an Arena Football League matchup which also marked the VooDoo’s best defensive effort of the season.
“Me, with my 6-3 frame, I never really go over the wall that much,” Morgan said. “But tonight, I had to go over the wall. I don’t know what I have on my back — nacho cheese or something else.
“I’ll do anything, man, to get us this win.”
The VooDoo had not won in since a 51-45 overtime victory against the Orlando Predators on March 24. Despite what has been a disappointing season, the VooDoo (2-8 overall) are still within reach of a wildcard berth thanks to their 2-2 record in the American South.
The last two months of play had been dominated with injuries and interceptions, miscues and muffed plays. Coach Pat O’Hara, a former AFL quarterback, said Saturday he opted for staying the course versus motivational tactics.
Finally, it worked.
“It’s been a long two months,” O’Hara said.
Not that he was throwing confetti in the air late Saturday night.
“I don’t want this to be like we just won a championship,” O’Hara said. “We won a game. In our minds, we’re 1-0 in season two. We’re capable of doing what we did tonight (again). We certainly need to move forward with what we did tonight.”
During a season of bad bounces, the VooDoo started Saturday with a lucky one. James Bryant recovered the opening kickoff at the Cleveland 6. On the VooDoo’s first play from scrimmage, Kurt Rocco found Morgan for the first of his scores.
Cleveland countered with Chris Dieker’s 25-yard TD to Thyron Lewis. But Rocco found Morgan again in the first quarter, capping a three-play drive with a 17-yard TD.
Morgan scored again in the final seconds of the first quarter, this time a 30-yard strike from Rocco. The VooDoo led 42-20 at halftime as Rocco threw three TD passes in the second quarter, including a 29-yard reception to Morgan.
On defense, the VooDoo forced Dieker to throw three interceptions while sacking him five times. Dieker finished with 239 passing yards and four TDs.
Cameron McGlenn, signed earlier this week, had two of the interceptions. Teammate LJ Castille returned an interception 46 yards for a score late in the third quarter. With 11:12 left, McGlenn scored on his second interception, extending the VooDoo’s lead to 63-33.
“I like it down here,” he said, smiling.
Morgan, a New Orleans native and product of Sarah T. Reed High School and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was traded to the VooDoo during the offseason.
After suffering through injuries this spring in training camp and missing three games this season with an abdominal injury, he returned two weeks ago. Since his return, Morgan has caught 12 TDs.
“I knew we had it all along,”he said. “We just haven’t had that chemistry that we were supposed to have since training camp because of injuries... But I think this second half of the season, we’re going to pick it up.”