By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Maybe the season isn’t old enough to be talking about must-win games. But whether Monticello’s Friday, Sept. 21 game at Camanche fell into that category or not, the Panthers rose to the occasion with an important road victory.
Monticello (1-2, 2-3) outscored the Indians over the first three quarters, then kept them bottled up in their own end in the final period on the way to a 28-21 victory.
The first half was dominated by the two offenses, with each scoring three touchdowns. The teams combined for 421 total yards (Monticello held a 218 to 203 edge), and there were only three punts, two by Camanche. The difference was, the Panthers converted their extra points and the Indians did not, so Monticello took a 21-18 lead into the locker room.
Camanche scored first, taking the opening possession of the game and marching 72 yards in nine plays. Devin Norman scored on a one-yard plunge, but the extra point kick sailed wide left.
The Panthers answered with a 10-play, 58-yard drive, with quarterback Jacob Black scoring on a one-yard run. Black had a 22-yard carry on the previous play. Tanner Felton, who was 4-for-4 on extra points, kicked his first one to give Monticello a lead it never relinquished.
Following a Camanche punt, Monticello moved from its 43 to the Camanche 45 as the first quarter clock ran out. On the first play of the second quarter, Black launched a pass to Chris Tjaden, who had beaten a defender down the right sideline, and Tjaden caught the ball on the run and scored on a 45-yard play. Felton’s kick extended the Monti lead to 14-6.
Camanche drove 68 yards in 12 plays for its next score, a 17-yard pass from Cody Mensinger to Derek Harksen. The Indians tried to tie the score with a two-point run, but were stopped short, so the Panthers led 14-12.
The teams traded three-and-outs, and the Panthers took over on their 34 with 2:26 left in the first half. Three plays later, Black hit Tyler Johnson on another long pass, this one covering 44 yards, and the Panthers had the ball at the Camanche 10-yard line. On the next play, Felton broke through the middle for a 10-yard touchdown, then kicked the point-after to give Monticello a 21-12 lead.
The Indians were able to strike back just before halftime, going 56 yards in six plays. The key play was a fake punt in which Mensinger hit Lucas Thiede on a pass over the middle that turned into a 36-yard gain. On the next play, Mensinger connected with Michael Osaro in the end zone for a 20-yard score with 40.8 seconds left in the half. A two-point pass fell incomplete, and Monticello led 21-18.
The Panthers moved quickly to give Felton a chance at a long field goal. His 49-yard try was long enough, but bounced off the left upright, so the three-point margin stood.
The offenses were in control in the third quarter as well. Monticello took the opening possession and traveled 66 yards in eight plays. Black scored on a 29-yard run, turning the corner around the right side and sprinting to the front right corner of the end zone. Felton’s kick gave the Panthers a 10-point lead, 28-18.
Camanche answered again, driving from its 34 to the Monticello 15 before Zach Smith kicked a 32-yard field goal to get his team within a touchdown, with 2:16 left in the quarter.
Neither team scored again, although the Panthers had some chances. One drive was stopped at the Camanche 36, and another one ended when a Felton field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter was blocked.
Camanche was saddled with poor field position in the fourth quarter, with drives starting at the 20-, 10- and 17-yard lines. The Panther defense did not allow a first down in the final period, and the last Camanche possession ended with Felton intercepting a pass at the Camanche 39 in the final minute of play.
It’s homecoming week for the Panthers, who will take on Center Point-Urbana Friday at Dean Nelson field.
Monticello 7 14 7 0 – 28
Camanche 6 12 3 0 – 21
Cam – Norman 1 run (kick failed), 8:25 remaining.
Mon – Black 1 run (Felton kick), 4:17.
Mon – Tjaden 45 pass from Black (Felton kick), 11:52.
Cam – Harksen 17 pass from Mensinger (run failed), 5:30.
Mon – Felton 10 run (Felton kick), 1:37.
Cam – Osaro 21 pass from Mensinger (pass failed), 0:40.8.
Mon – Black 29 run (Felton kick), 8:21.
Cam – Smith 32 field goal, 2:16.
First downs 15 13
Rushing yards 187 79
Passing yards 128 112
Comp.-att.-int. 5-8-0 12-19-1
Total yards 315 191
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yds. 5-35 4-40
Rushing – Black 14-70, Felton 22=69, McQuillen 8-47, Jamison 1-3, Herman 1-(-2).
Passing – Black 5-8-128-1-0.
Receiving – Tjaden 1-45, Johnson 1-44, McQuillen 2-34, Jamison 1-5.
Interception – Felton.
Tackle leaders – McQuillen 7, Fuhrmeister 5, Jamison 4.5, Felton 4, Black 4, Merrill 4, Tjaden 3.5, Reuter 3.5, Welter 3, Easton 3.
Sacks – Pike 1.5, Guyer 1.5, Craig 1.
Tackles-for-loss – Pike 1.5, Guyer 1.5, Craig 1, Reuter 1, Jamison 1, Black 1, Tjaden 1.
PHOTO: Chris Tjaden of Monticello takes down Camanche runner Devin Norman Friday. (Photo by Pete Temple)