Monroe Central falls in a shootout
WOODSFIELD — Friday evening’s game between Caldwell and Monroe Central featured a little bit of everything; onside kicks (only one kick was not a squib, pooch, or onside attempt), a pick-six, clutch passes, and power running. The only thing missing was a punt, as neither the Redskins nor the Seminoles executed a dropkick the entire game. When the clock ran down to all zeroes, Caldwell claimed a 36-33 victory in a barnburner over the homestanding Seminoles.
“We were trying to look at different defenses, they were gashing us left and right,” stated Caldwell coach Grant Gaydos when asked about Monroe Central’s first-quarter success. “They have got one heck of a backfield in 13 (Malachi Rose-Burton) and 44 (Alex Kilburn). For a team that has low numbers, they are big, they’re strong, they’ve got a great backfield. Kudos to them, the coaches did a good job, too. We knew we were going to be in a dogfight and unfortunately, we probably made it closer than it could have been. Our kids had every opportunity to let down or put their heads down, but every time they stepped up both offensively and defensively.”
“We didn’t execute well enough,” lamented Monroe Central boss Josh Ischy. “That’s kind of what it came down to. I think Grant (Gaydos) will tell you the same thing. It was what offense stopped themselves more. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times, I think we had a second and 18, and we stalled out and gave it away and couldn’t stop them. Credit to them, they executed and just put the ball in the end zone more times than we did. It was an offensive battle, a time of possession battle, we won early, they won late and had enough to finish there at the end.”
Caldwell (2-2) started the game at their own 45 after recovering an opening pooch kick and spread the ball out between Marshall Sayre, Brandon Piskula, and quarterback Braxton Dudley, as the Redskins covered 55 yards on seven rushes before Sayre pushed in from two yards out. The conversion run failed, putting Caldwell up 6-0 at the 7:57 mark of the first. Caldwell’s offense did not see the field again until the 11:52 mark of the second frame.
Monroe Central (2-2) struck back as Rose-Burton and Kilburn chewed up 46 yards following Auston Hogue’s 30-yard kickoff return to the visitors’ 46. Eight plays later Kilburn shot left to score from nine-yards out. Garet Cramer was true on the PAT for a 7-6 lead for the hosts at 3:42 remaining in the first.
Cramer’s onside attempt was recovered by Kramer at midfield, setting up Monroe in excellent position. Rose-Burton sprinkled a pair of passes to Michael Bunning, while he and Kilburn covered the rest of the distance. The drive was ended by a nifty 24-yard dash by Rose-Burton, who jetted through the secondary, carrying a would-be tackler into the end zone on the final three yards of the jaunt. The placement failed, setting the score at 13-7 in favor of Monroe Central.
Caldwell recovered the ensuing squib kick at their 36 and proceeded to carry out a 12-play drive, culminated when Dudley lofted a beautiful pass to Skyler VanFossen, who was streaking to the right pylon in the back of the end zone and made a fantastic basket catch. Dudley busted through on the conversion to put the visitors back up 14-13.
Monroe didn’t take long to go back ahead, taking just 2:01 for Rose-Burton to find pay dirt again, this time zipping in from 23-yards away. Kilburn burrowed in for the two-pointer this time, and after the Seminoles defense held on the final drive of the half, the ‘Noles led 21-14.
Caldwell’s defense held to start the second half, forcing a turnover on downs at their own 31. Taking advantage of the momentum, the ‘Skins gave the hosts a big dose of Caden Moore, as the senior rushed on five of the seven plays of the scoring drive, including an 11-yard touchdown jaunt. In all, the running back garnered 39-yards on the drive. Dudley’s two-point dash put the visitors back up 22-21.
The visitors’ defense held again, giving them the ball at their own 39. This time Caldwell took no time as Dudley zig-zagged his way through the Seminole “D” for a 61-yard score. He also again went for the deuce, giving the Redskins a 30-21 advantage.
The Seminoles, already reeling, saw things seemingly get worse as Cale Bender recovered the following onside kick to give Caldwell the ball back at Monroe’s 47. Luckily for the hosts, Rose-Burton stepped right in front of Dudley’s first-down pass attempt and outran the Caldwell offense for a 55-yard pick-six. The kick was unsuccessful, leaving the ‘Noles behind 30-27, which held through the end of the third quarter.
Following the first deep kick of the game, a touchback, Caldwell was able to regain composure and assemble a 10-play drive tat chewed up 80-yards that saw Dudley score again, this time bullying his way in from the one. The conversion pass failed, putting the visitors up 36-27.
Monroe Central was able to score on their next drive as Kilburn scored from five out, and an errant PAT saw Monroe trailing 36-33 with 5:41 left.
From that point, Coach Gaydos was masterful with the clock, as his offense took every second of the play clock possible. The visitors ran 10 plays and forced the hosts to exhaust their timeouts before converting a fourth and short at Monroe’s 16 to afford them the chance to finish the game in the victory formation, taking a well-earned 36-33 win.
Caldwell will visit Berne Union next week, while Monroe Central travels to Buckeye Local for the Panthers’ homecoming game.