Last minute TD wins it for Panthers over NFV

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     A Monticello Panther Homecoming game in which neither team led by more than seven points was decided, as one might expect, in the final minute.

     Devin Kraus outwrestled a North Fayette Valley defender for the ball in the end zone, on a 14-yard pass from Jeff Carlson with 34.5 seconds to play, as the Panthers won this football game 28-21 Sept. 28 at Dean Nelson Field.

     In so doing, the Panthers evened both their Class 2A, District 4 record (1-1) and their overall record (3-3).

     “It will definitely help our confidence,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “NFV is a good football team that is well-coached, and anytime you can come away with a victory against them it will give you confidence.”

     Monticello’s offense put up big numbers – Lake Stahlberg rushed 29 times for 189 yards. Quarterback Jeff Carlson completed 17 of 23 passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception. The Panthers had 401 total yards.

     “It all started with our ability to run the football,” Wilson said. “Our offensive line has been getting better and better each game, and Lake has a great mix of size and speed. He is really starting to see the blocks unfold, and made some good cutbacks for big gains.

     “Jeff also continues to get better each night. He has taken control of the offense and made some really good decisions.”

     Six different Panthers caught passes in the game.

     “We can put four or five receivers in the game that have the ability to make big catches, and Jeff does a really good job of spreading the ball around,” Wilson said.

     Monticello struck quickly in this game. Gavin Cooper returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the North Fayette 33-yard line. Two plays later, Stahlberg ran for 20 yards to the 17, and from there, Carlson rolled left and found Cooper for a 17-yard touchdown, just 59 seconds into the game. Carlson also kicked the extra point, and the Panthers led 7-0.

     North Fayette Valley answered right back, on a 47-yard pass play, Brooks Hovden to Gunner Rodgers, but missed the point-after to trail 7-6.

     Tony Wallerich made the first of his two interceptions two series later, and returned the ball 46 yards to the Tigerhawks’ 37, but the Panthers were stopped on downs.

     The next time Monticello got the ball, it drove 75 yards in eight plays, fighting off a pair of 10-yard penalties, before scoring on a 30-yard pass, Carlson to Tyler Luensman over the middle. The Panthers led 13-7 with 9:17 left in the first half.

     Cade Folken made an interception to stop the Tigerhawks’ next series, but the Panthers were stopped on downs at the NFV 17.

     From there, the Tigerhawks drove 83 yards in 11 plays, and crossed the goal line on a two-yard run by Liam McIntyre with 19 seconds left in the half. The extra point was good, the NFV went into halftime with a 14-13 lead.

     The Panthers regained the lead on their first series of the second half. Starting at their own 11-yard line, they got to midfield on a 39-yard run by Stahlberg. Three plays later, from the NFV 28, Carlson tossed a swing pass to Cooper, who made the first defender miss and went in for the score. Stahlberg ran in a two-point conversion, the Monticello led 21-14.

     The teams traded possessions for the rest of the quarter – Wallerich recorded his second interception – before the Tigerhaws tied it in the fourth quarter on a 59-yard drive. McIntyre scored again, on a one-yard run, and the extra point knotting things 21-21 with 7:49 to play.

     Monticello had two more possessions. The first ended on downs at the NFV 17-yard line. On the second one, the Panthers scored the eventual game-winner.

     After forcing an NFV punt – Luke Weber batted down a key third down pass – the Panthers took over from midfield. Stahlberg carried four straight times, including a 24-yard run, getting the ball to the 14.

     Carlson rolled right and tossed the ball to Kraus, who leaped and came down with the ball for a touchdown with 34.5 seconds left. Carlson booted the extra point, and Monticello led 28-21.

     “They had been giving us that throw in the second half, but we had been running the ball so well we had not gone to it yet,” Wilson said.

     NFV had one more chance, starting from its 34 with 30.3 seconds left. A penalty brought the ball to the 49, but the Panther defense forced four straight incomplete passes, the last one running out the remainder of the clock.

     “Coach (Jon) Kyte and coach (Nathan) Freeze made a nice adjustment at halftime with the defensive line, and after that we played extremely well on that side of the ball.”

Cowbell game Friday

     The Panthers will renew their longstanding rivalry with neighboring Anamosa Friday, Oct. 5 in the annual battle for the Cowbell Trophy. It will also be the annual Pink-Out game for breast cancer awareness.

     Monticello has won the last two meetings, including last year’s dramatic 42-41 win, and leads the all-time series 55-36-5.


Sept. 28

NFV         6   8   0   7  – 21

Monti     7   6   8   7  – 28



     Monti – Cooper 17 pass from Carlson (Carlson kick), 11:01 remaining.

     NFV – Rodgers 47 pass from Hovden (kick failed), 9:23.


     Monti – T. Luensman 30 pass from Carlson (kick failed), 9:17.

     NFV – McIntyre 2 run (K. Johnson pass from Hovden), 0:19.0.


     Monti – Cooper 28 pass from Carlson (Stahlberg run), 8:56.


     NFV – McIntyre 1 run (Hovden kick), 7:49.

     Monti – Kraus 14 pass from Carlson (Carlson kick), 0:34.5.


                                    NFV     Monti

First downs            17             12

Rushing yards      182           193

Passing yards       153           208

Comp.-att.-int    7-19-3    17-23-0

Total yards            335           401

Penalties               2-10          6-58

Fumbles lo              0                0


     Rushing – Stahlberg 29-189, Carlson 2-3, Cooper 2-1.

     Passing – Carlson 17-23-208-4-0.

     Receiving – Cooper 5-68, T. Luensman 3-58, Kraus 3-31, Stahlberg 3-26, Recker 2-25, Bowser 1-0.

     Tackles – Stahlberg 13.5, Picray 7.5, Bowser 5.5, Cooper 5, C. Luensman 4.5, Folken 4, T. Luensman 4, Barnhart 3, Reuter 3, Wallerich 3, Weber 2.5, Recker 2, Brokaw 1.5, Avery 1.

     Tackles-for-loss – Stahlberg 2.5, Picray 2, Weber 0.5.

     Interceptions – Wallerich 2, Folken 1.



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