By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
At halftime of the Monticello football game at Dyersville Beckman Friday, the Panthers found themselves leading the ninth-ranked Blazers 6-3.
Beckman found its footing in the second half, however, scoring four touchdowns to pull away to a 31-12 victory over Monticello Oct. 5.
Despite low numbers that have caused cancellation of the final three JV games, the Panthers (1-4, 2-5) have found ways, the past two weeks, to stick with ranked teams.
“I thought our kids and coaches prepared well for this game,” Monticello coach Shane Blake said. “We controlled the tempo of the game the whole first half against a good team.”
The first three possessions of this game resulted in punts, including two by Monticello. On the Blazers’ second possession, they got to start on the Monticello 39-yard line and moved as far as the 8. A sack by Anthony Guyer moved them back to the 13, however, and a field goal try missed. The teams came out of the first quarter scoreless.
Beckman took its first lead early in the second quarter. Again starting with a short field, on the Panther 36, the Blazers got to the 16 before Adam Noethe kicked a 34-yard field goal.
The Panthers came back. Jarrett Easton had a 35-yard kickoff return that gave Monticello the ball on its 43. From there, the Panthers marched 57 yards in 12 plays to score on a two-yard run by Tanner Felton.
The biggest play of the drive, however, took place on a fourth-and-30 from the Monticello 36. The Panthers ran a fake punt, with Easton lofting a pass to the left side for Jacob Black, who caught the ball and was knocked out of bounds near the Blazer 35.
It might have been marked just short of a first down, but a sideline official failed to mark the ball at the end of the play. A flag had been thrown near the line of scrimmage, but the flag was put away with no foul called. Another official then picked up the ball and set it down past the first down marker, giving Monticello a 31-yard gain and a first down at the Beckman 33.
The Panthers took advantage. Black completed a 14-yard pass to Sawyer Herman, and Felton ran for 13 yards to the 5. Two plays later Felton scored, but his extra point kick was blocked. Monticello led 6-3 with 4:06 left in the half. That score held up until halftime.
Beckman looked like a different team in the second half. Ian Ross broke away for a 52-yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage, and Noethe’s point-after gave the Blazers a 10-6 lead.
After the teams traded punts, Beckman scored again when Grant Hammann completed a touchdown pass to Tony Anstoetter, a play covering 67 yards. With 3:08 left in the third quarter, Beckman led 17-6.
“Beckman made some good adjustments at halftime and executed them well, but we also made some great on-field adjustments and kept battling,” Blake said.
Indeed, Monticello came back once more. The Panthers took advantage of a 56-yard run by Black to score on a two-yard plunge by Felton. A two-point pass failed, but the Panthers were back in it, trailing 17-12 in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Panthers got the ball early in the fourth quarter with a chance to regain the lead, but Beckman’s Kyle Mensen recovered a Monticello fumble at the Panther 37. Four plays later, Mitch Steger cut right, then left to score on a 23-yard run.
Beckman added an insurance score with 3:20 left, on a two-yard run by Kirby Kendrick.
“We are a team that keeps improving, in what I think is one of the top districts from top to bottom in the state,” Blake said. “Our kids are still a young team with most of the starting positions being played by juniors or sophomores.”
The Panthers will play a non-district game at West Liberty (4-1, 4-3) Oct. 12, before returning home to face Northeast of Goose Lake Oct. 19. West Liberty (4-1 in its district, 4-3 overall) is coached by former Monticello assistant coach Ben Slife.
“West Liberty is a good team, second in their district,” Blake said. “It should be a fun game.”
Monticello 0 6 6 0 – 12
Beckman 0 3 14 14 – 31
Beck – Noethe 34 field goal, 10:04 remaining.
Monti – Felton 2 run (kick blocked), 4:06.
Beck - Ross 52 run (Noethe kick), 10:58.
Beck - Ansoetter 67 pass from Hammann (Noethe kick), 3:08.
Monti - Felton 2 run (pass failed), 0:43.3.
Beck – Steger 23 run (Noethe kick), 8:17.
Beck - Kendrick 2 run (Noethe kick), 3:20.
First downs 13 14
Rushing yards 132 250
Passing yards 134 79
Comp.-att.-int. 7-13-0 2-6-0
Total yards 266 329
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yds. 5-48 3-15
Rushing – Felton 20-62, Black 19-56, Aitchison 3-7, McQuillen 2-4, Herman 1-3.
Passing – Black 3-8-52-0-0, Aitchison 3-4-52-0-0, Easton 1-1-30-0-0.
Receiving – Herman 2-39, Tjaden 1-35, Black 1-30, McQuillen 1-13, Johnson 1-13, Easton 1-4.
Tackle leaders – McQuillen 14, Guyer 6, Reuter 5.5, Tjaden 5.5, Herman 3, Pike 2, Easton 2, Johnson 2.
Tackles-for-loss – McQuillen 2.5, Guyer 2.5, Easton 1, Pike 0.5, Felton 0.5.
PHOTO: Tanner Felton of Monticello (34) crosses the goal line for a touchdown in the Oct. 5 game at Dyersville Beckman. (Photo by Pete Temple)