Panthers, Keleher have big second half in win over North Fayette Valley

Devin Kraus of Monticello (right) pulls in a 25-yard touchdown pass against North Fayette Valley Friday, Sept. 15 at Dean Nelson Field. (Photo courtesy of Dianna Rucker, Rucker Photography)

Max Keleher of the Panthers runs for a 20-yard gain in the third quarter, part of the 243 yards he picked up in Monticello’s win Friday. (Photo by Pete Temple)

Jacob Manternach of the Panthers (16) leaps to make an interception on the final play of the first half against North Fayette Valley. Chase Luensman (20) was ready for the ball as well. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Throughout the first half, Monticello’s big home victory over North Fayette Valley at Dean Nelson Field was a see-saw contest.

     And then it wasn’t.

     Max Keleher rushed for 209 of his 243 yards in the second half, scoring three consecutive touchdowns, as the Panthers rallied from a 20-14 halftime deficit to defeat North Fayette Valley 34-26 Friday, Sept. 15.

     Keleher scored on a four-yard run, and then broke scoring runs of 50 and 48 yards, as Monticello (1-1, 3-1) evened its Class 2A, District 4 record. Quarterback Jacob Manternach chipped in as well, passing for 144 yards and two first half touchdowns.

     Monticello’s defense, which struggled against Union the previous week, held the Tiger Hawks off the scoreboard in the second half until NFV added a touchdown with just 1:16 to play.

     “It’s a good win for us,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “We needed to get back on track after last week, and our kids responded.

     The teams traded touchdowns in the first half. NFV capped a 15-play, 73-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass, Brooks Hovden to Lance Butikofer, and the Tiger Hawks took a 6-0 lead.

     That margin held until the Panthers mounted an 83-yard drive that took nine plays. Manternach rolled right and hit Devin Kraus in the end zone for the score, as Kraus reached to grab the ball waist-high. A two-point run failed, and the game was tied 6-6 early in the second quarter.

     The Tiger Hawks scored on their next possession, a one-yard run by Zach Massman, and the Panthers answered with a 74-yard drive in six plays. Andrew Mescher caught a pass from Manternach near the right sideline at the 10-yard line, and broke at least two tackles while driving to the end zone. A two-point run by Manternach tied the game 14-14.

     NFV gained the upper hand before halftime, mounting an 84-yard drive and scoring on an eight-yard run by Mac Whelan. The Tiger Hawks led 20-14 at the break.

     Monticello took the lead for good midway through the third quarter. After the Panther defense forced a three-and-out, the offense marched 65 yards in nine plays, scoring on a four-yard run by Keleher. Gavin Holub’s extra point gave the Panthers a 21-20 lead.

     Two series later, a 53-yard punt by Manternach pinned NFV back to its own 12-yard line. The Tiger Hawks went three-and-out, and a short punt gave the Panthers the ball at midfield. On the next play, Keleher rumbled 50 yards for a score, and Monticello led 27-20.

     The Panthers scored on their next series as well, with Keleher this time going 48-yards for a touchdown. Holub’s point-after made it 34-20 with 11:04 to play.

     “We played with more confidence in the second half,” Wilson said. “Our offensive line did a really good job. We made a couple of adjustments, and they executed. Our receivers have improved a lot on their blocking, and that has helped us get a couple big runs also.”

     Monticello’s defense then came up big after a long NFV drive, stopping the Tiger Hawks on fourth-and-goal from the Panther 2. NFV did score on its next possession, a 20-yard pass from Hovden to Whelan, but by then only 1:16 remained. An onside kick attempt was recovered by Monticello’s Clayton Kraus, and the Panthers ran out the remaining time.

     “Over the course of the year, we have been pretty good defensively in the second half,” the coach said. “We seem to give up too many big plays in the first half, but our kids settle down in the second half and play good defense. We are getting more guys running to the ball and gang tackling.”

     Monticello forced three turnovers during the game, interceptions by Manternach and Chase Luensman, and Tony Wallerich recovered an NFV fumble.

At Cascade Friday

     The Panthers will play at Cascade Friday, Sept. 22. Cascade (2-0, 4-0) is coming off an upset of (then) second-ranked Waukon, by a score of 25-20.

     “Cascade has a really good football team,” Wilson said. “They are coming off a big win and have a lot of confidence. We cannot give up big plays early and have to play catch-up. We have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and win the turnover battle.”

     That will be followed by two home games, the homecoming battle with Waukon Sept. 29, and a game against Oelwein Oct. 6.


Sept. 15

NFV       6  14    0    6   –  26

Monti   0  14  13   7   –  34



     NFV – Butikofer 10 pass from Hovden (kick failed), 4:24 remaining.


     Monti – D Kraus 25 pass from Manternach (run failed), 10:27.

     NFV – Massman 1 run (Massman run), 6:31.

     Monti – Mescher 17 pass from Manternach (Manternach run), 4:32.

     NFV – Whelan 8 run (pass failed), 1:16.


     Monti – Keleher 4 run (Holub kick), 6:53.

     Monti – Keleher 50 run (kick blocked), 1:48.


     Monti – Keleher 48 run (Holub kick), 11:04.

     NFV – Whelan 20 pass from Hovden (pass failed), 1:16.


                               NFV      Monti

Rushing yds.        244        309

Passing yds.        173        134

Comp.-att.-int. 12-26-2  8-13-0

Total yds.             417         443

Penalties             5-45        6-60

Fumbles lost          1            0


     Rushing – Keleher 22-243, Manternach 10-69, Bowser 2-4, Cooper 1-3, Mescher 1-(-10).

     Passing – Manternach 8-13-144-2-0.

     Receiving – Mescher 4-46, Cooper 1-39, D. Kraus 1-25, C. Kraus 1-16, Wallerich 1-8.

     Interceptions – Manternach, Luensman.

     Fumble recovery – Wallerich.

     Tackles – Manternach 9.5, Stahlberg 8, Holub 6.5, Mescher 5.5, C. Kraus 3.5, Bowser 3, Cooper 3, Keleher 3, Wallerich 3, Kiburz 2.5, Kuper 2.5, Lorenzen 2.5, Picray 1.5, Ungs 1.5, Eastburn 1.

     Tackles-for-loss – C. Kraus 1, Stahlberg 1.5, Holub 0.5, Kuper 0.5.



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