Cubs survive dogfight with Aurora
The only thing relaxing about the Monett Cubs football game with the Aurora Houn' Dawgs was the crowning of Faith Schmidt as Monett Homecoming Queen on Sept. 27.
For 48 grueling minutes, the Cubs (5-0, 3-0) and Houn' Dawgs (2-3, 1-2) battled, with Monett holding on for a 26-21 victory.
"It was a fight," said Monett coach Chad Depée. "I tip my cap to Coach (Rick) Scholten. His club came in here ready to play."
The game was a complete roller coaster of emotion, momentum swing plays and coaching frustration.
Turnovers and mental mistakes almost proved to be the undoing of the Cubs.
Penalties, in critical times, proved too costly for Aurora.
The Cubs won the toss and deferred their option to the second half.
Monett held the Aurora offense to a three and out to force a punt.
However, a bad snap forced the Aurora punter to run forward to field the ball. When he looked up there were no Cubs around and he gained 25 yards and a first down.
While the Houn's drive eventually stalled, the play served as a harbinger of things to come.
"Our heads weren't in the game too much tonight," said Depée. "We were lucky."
Monett's first drive began at its own 35-yard line. With surgical precision the Cubs carved up the Aurora defense and moved to the Houn's 4-yard line.
On first and goal, Monett fumbled the ball into the end zone and Aurora pounced on the loose pigskin for a touchback.
The Houn' Dawgs punted on the next series and gave the ball back to the Cubs at their 46.
This time Monett wouldn't be denied. The Purple and Gold marched 54 yards in nine plays. Quaterback Zach Hammond picked up five yards on a fourth and four to keep the drive alive.
Hammond called his own number on a 17-yard scamper to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead with 1:35 left in the first period.
Aurora didn't wait to respond. They countered the Monett drive with a pounding 10-play, 68 yard attack.
Quarterback Josh Fronabarger raced in from 12-yards out to knot the score 7-7 with 9:24 left in the second period.
Three game minutes later, the Purple and Gold were presented a golden opportunity when they blocked an Aurora punt at the Houn' Dawgs 13.
But once again the Cubs were unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs at the 5.
Monett held Aurora following the turnover on downs and struck quickly.
Hammond found Aaron Aldrich on a 25-yard crossing pattern to complete a four play, 36-yard drive and send the Cubs into the locker room with an uneasy 14-7 lead.
Monett received to open play in the second half. After missing out on a potential of 14 points in the first half, the first drive of the second was critical.
Unfortunately, two running plays that resulted in negative yardage and one positive play that didn't move the sticks sent the hometown punt team onto the field.
Punter Cameron Witt unloaded on the ball right before an Aurora defender unloaded on hit on him.
The Houn's were flagged for a roughing the kicker penalty. Monett was given 15- yards and an automatic first down.
The Cubs then ran Abramovitz up the middle six times in a row.
The junior workhorse ripped off gains of five, nine, nine, 11, four and four to reach pay dirt and extend the Cubs lead to 20-7 with 7:27 left in the third.
With momentum on their side, Monett's defense forced a punt and sent the red-hot offense back on to the field.
However, an ill-advised pass after a huge fourth down conversion ended up in Houn' Dawg hands along with the momentum.
Aurora whisked down the field and scored as Fronabarger found Skylar Cahill on a 33-yard pitch and catch.
With 11 minutes left in the game Monett clung to a 20-14 lead.
The Cubs were stymied on their next drive. A fumble on third down resulted in a loss of 20 yards.
Aurora got the ball back at midfield but provided their own setback with a false start penalty and dead ball foul, giving them second and 30.
Unable to overcome the mental mistakes the Houn's sent on the punt team.
Monett's Chase Brennan fielded the pigskin at the 25--yard line and transformed into a human joystick.
The 5'5" senior cut up the field and bellied to his left. After walking a tightrope down the near sideline he cut across the field, picking up a key block at the Houn's 20.
The two-time wrestling state champion then raced to the far sideline and plowed through two would-be tacklers to score.
"I wouldn't want to walk the path Brennan took to the end zone, let alone run it," joked Depée. "He is a warrior. He is smallest guy on our team, but he makes some of the biggest plays."
The score brought the large Monett crowd onto their feet, and the Cubs a 26-14 lead with 7:02 to play.
Aurora quickly tempered the Monett celebration with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Cahill 32 seconds later to cut the game margin to five points.
Monett couldn't answer the Houn's score and punted.
Setting up shop at its 30 with 4:46 left, Aurora advanced the ball to the Cubs' 46.
However, a block in the back penalty and a huge tackle for loss by Abramovitz killed the drive.
With 1:55 left in the game and facing a fourth and 25, the Houn' Dawgs punted to Monett.
The Cubs tried to run the clock out but fumbled on second down. The neighbors from the east had the ball at the Monett 47 with 1:33 left in the game.
With the stadium fans roaring on both sides of the field, Aurora moved the ball to the Cubs' 18 with 31 seconds left.
The Houn' Dawgs spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock. Second and third downs witnessed passes wide of their intended target.
On fourth an 10, Fronabarger's pass sailed over the head of its target and touched green grass for an incompletion. The Monett stands erupted in euphoria.
"A win is a win," said Depée. "We'll take this ugly win, but it's wasn't the way we drew the game plan up."
The Cubs travel to Cassville on Oct. 4. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.