The Monett Cubs traveled to McDonald County Friday night in search of their second-consecutive football victory of the season. While the Cubs offense sputtered early, the defense rose to meet every challenge and helped lead the Cubs (2-1) to a 40-0 victory over the Mustangs.
The Cubs defense allowed the Mustangs to accumulate only 154 total yards of offense 138 rushing, 16 passing including a key goal line stand with the game's outcome in doubt.
A fast moving storm surfaced Friday night and brought heavy rains and high winds before the start of many of the area's games.
Despite the rain, McDonald County's field was in remarkable playing condition, a testament to the ground crew. However, it was each side's defense that was the story of the first period.
McDonald County punted on its first three possessions of the quarter, but the Cubs offense couldn't capitalize on the good fortune.
The Cubs countered by losing fumbles on each of their first two drives and had a punt blocked to end their third series.
"Our offense didn't come to play in the first half," said Monett coach Chad Depée. "If it hadn't been for our defense, this game could have gotten away early."
The blocked punt gave McDonald County a first and 10 at the Cubs' 39-yard line. But the Mustangs gave the ball back on their first snap. Monett's Jeremiah Paszek pounced on the loose ball.
On Monett's first play of the ensuing drive, running back Aaron Hall had the ball jarred loose and McDonald County recovered at the Cubs' 28-yard line.
Undeterred, Monett's stonewall defense dug its heels into the ground and held Mustang running back Jantsen Lynn to a 2-yard gain on first and second down. On third and 6, quarterback Jake Wood lofted a pass toward the corner of the end zone where Monett's defensive back, Zach Swearingen, intercepted the pass and returned the ball to the Cubs 27-yard line.
Kurran Blamey gained 3 yards on first down on Monett's next series and Aaron Hall gained 4 yards on second down and the first quarter, which saw five turnovers and one blocked punt, came to a conclusion.
The second period began with a bang for Monett.
Blamey took the handoff from quarterback Kyle Woods and raced 65 yards to pay dirt. Aaron Aldrich added the extra point and with 11:51 left in the second period Monett led 7-0.
McDonald County managed a first down, its first of the contest, on the ensuing drive. But a 1-yard gain and two more incomplete pass attempts sent punter Zach Duty back onto the field for one of his eight punts.
|After Duty's punt, the Cubs set up shop on their own 35-yard line. A run by Hall and a 45-yard reception by Blamey moved the ball to the Mustangs 30. Three plays later, Woods and Blamey hooked up for a 21-yard pitch and catch and the Cubs grabbed a 14-0 lead with 10:35 left until halftime.||The Cubs defense lived in the Mustangs backfield all night. Mc Donald County's quarterback Wood completed only two of his 12 passing attempts for 16 yards due to Monett pressure. Three Mustang running backs were held to 11 combined rushing yards in the first half.|
Monett began a drive with 5:12 left in the first half on their 9-yard line. In three plays, the Cubs advanced the ball 16 yards. On the fourth play, a fumbled quarterback to running back exchange, gave the Mustangs outstanding field position at the Cubs' 17.
McDonald County went to work gaining 10 yards on its first two plays and had first and goal on the Cubs' 7 with 2:15 left in the half.
Monett's stingy defense yielded 3 combined rushing yards on first and second downs. An incomplete pass on third left the Mustangs with a fourth and goal at the 3-yard line. Wood tried to sweep around the right side of the Cubs' defense only to be met by a host of tacklers and dropped for no gain.
"That stand was crucial," said Depée. "If we don't hold them there, they gain a tremendous amount of momentum heading to halftime."
Monett came out of the locker room fueled by the energy created by the defense. The kickoff was an omen of the good things to come.
Monett's Matt Murphy picked up the Mustangs' squib kick and returned the ball 41 yards to the McDonald County 35-yard line.
Three consecutive runs by Hall netted the purple and gold 11 yards. A 4-yard run by Blamey and a 5-yard face mask penalty on the Mustangs moved the ball to the 15.
On the next play, Woods rolled to his left and found tight end Devon Overall, who raced into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. The extra point gave Monett a 21-0 advantage with 10:21 left in the third period.
Still humming like a fine tuned engine, the Cubs' defense shut down McDonald County and forced a punt after three plays.
The Cubs' second series of the second half began at their own 42-yard line.
On the second play of the drive, Blamey took a check down throw from Woods in the flat, turned his shoulders and tight-roped down the sideline 56 yards to extend the lead 27-0.
Swearingen ended the Mustangs next attempt at a drive recovering a fumble.
Monett began a will-breaking drive at their 15-yard line with 2:35 left in the third. Milking the clock, the Cubs steadily moved the ball down the field on runs by Hall, Blamey and Woods. However it was running back Murphy who delivered the knockout punch.
Murphy raced into the land of six from 38 yards away and Monett led 33-0. The drive covered 85 yards in 13 plays and chewed 7:09 off the clock.
That would be the last drive for the Cubs' starters but it would not be the last score.
Sophomore running back Wes Abramovitz capped Monett's last drive scoring from four yards out to provide the 40-point margin of victory.
"The main difference between the first half and the second half was the offensive execution," said Depée. "It took a while to get our offense in sync. The defense, I couldn't have been prouder."
Hall finished the game with 93 yards rushing on 22 carries. Blamey compiled 98 yards rushing and 122-yards receiving and Abramovitz finished with 49 yards on seven carries.
Woods completed seven of his nine passing attempts for 148 yards and three touchdown passes.
The Cubs will host East Newton on Friday for their homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.