By Logan Sewell
The Monroe Hornets are now number one in their region in the Harbin Rankings for the second time this year after spoiling Fenwick's Homecoming, 21-14, and beating the Falcons for the first time since 2002.
The last time Monroe was number one, the Hornets lost for the only time this year to West Carrollton. This week, the Hornets take on the 2-6 Dayton Stebbins Indians at home. While Stebbins is in the middle of a down year, they did upset West Carrollton earlier in the season. The Hornets will come prepared against the Indians, Coach Jason Krause's former team, or they could lose for just the second time all year.
The Middletown Journal ran a story that was on the front page of the sports section Friday on quarterbacks Tad Kilburn and Tyler Osterman that left teammates and fans alike excited about the Fenwick game, a big rivalry game. The Fenwick fans came out in the bunches to support their Falcons but even with their side of the stands jam-packed, Monroe fans seemed to outdraw the rival Falcons for the first time in ages.
Monroe went into the game without top cornerback, senior Ryan Craycraft, who was injured during last week's win over Talawanda, but is expected back this week. Meanwhile, key offensive threat senior wide receiver Pat Harrington suffered an injured thumb in Friday night's game.
Both defenses dominated the first quarter, with Monroe scoring the only points of the period off a 32-yard field goal by senior kicker Kilburn. The Falcons finally got on the scoreboard early in the second period when running back Sam Talkers pushed his way across the goaline to score from one yard out. Monroe went into the half up 10-7 after sophomore running back Jared Ferguson scampered into the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown run with the clock running out in the first half.
Monroe opened the second half scoring with a 32-yard kick by Kilburn and the Hornets were in position to put the contest out of reach, before Fenwick senior Joe Murphy intercepted an errant pass and returned the pick 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The interception was Murphy's MML-leading fourth of the year. The Falcons' sideline went berserk with their fans thinking that the Hornets would fold, like Monroe did against West Carrollton.
The Hornets looked like a defeated team before receiving the football on their own 21-yard line with 8:18 showing on the clock in the fourth quarter. Monroe's quick-strike offense had been held in check throughout the first three quarters, but on this drive the Hornets went to the air three straight times after Ferguson was stopped after a one-yard run on first down. On second down, Tad found junior wide receiver Josh Herron for a gain of 27 yards. Monroe sophomore wide receiver Braden McMonigle broke free down the sideline where Kilburn connected with Braden for a 39-yard gain to advance the football to the Falcons' 12-yard line. After gaining 6 yards on a Ferguson run on first down, Monroe decided to pass on second down. Monroe quarterback Kilburn dropped back, after not seeing anyone open, he rolled to his right and found McMonigle all alone in the back of the endzone for the game-winnning touchdown. The touchdown grab was Braden McMonigle's third of the season. In case Fenwick scored another touchdown, Coach Krause had the Hornets go for the two-point conversion try. Tad flipped the ball to senior tight end Shae Michael, who ran across the goaline to put Monroe on top of Fenwick 21-14.
Fenwick had one final possession to tie the game, and their drive started at their own 29-yard line. Quarterback Murphy connected with wide receiver Tyler Zaidel for a 15-yard gain. Murphy again found Zaidel open this time, hitting Tyler for a gain of 44 yards. The Falcons were ready to celebrate a huge victory over Monroe and keep their playoff hopes alive but Fenwick forgot one thing: while the Monroe offense has received all the publicity, the defense has quietly kept opponents out of the endzone all year long.
The Hornet defense has had numerous goaline stands to keep the opposition from scoring and gaining momentum. Fenwick running back Tyler Purcell drove the ball to the 1-yard line before being shoved backwards by the Hornet defense. On the next play, Purcell again rushed the ball and again he failed to score. After that play, there was no time left on the scoreboard. But the referees called a false start, a five yard penalty, on the Falcons which brought the ball out to the six. Tyler took the ball for the third straight carry and instead of running up the middle of the defense, he bumped it outside where he gained four yards before reaching a brick wall of Hornet defenders that tackled him. The Hornets' sideline burst into cheers and Monroe coaches and players piled on each other right where the play ended.
Around the MML, Greenville cruised to an easy victory winning 34-6 over North and the Green Wave improve to 6-2 on the season. Dayton Carroll upended Lebanon, winning 14-8 on the Warriors' field to win their fourth straight and their record is now 6-2. Lebanon lost for the second straight week to fall to 5-3 on the year. In a "surprise" - not -- Springboro manhandled Fairborn, winning 48-14. Both teams still have exact opposite records of each other as Springboro is now 8-0 while Fairborn is 0-8. Edgewood rebounded from their loss to West Carrollton to win with ease over Dayton Stebbins. The loss was Stebbins' fourth straight of the season. Talawanda won for just the second time all year, beating Franklin 34-7. Franklin is now 1-3 since they dismissed their head coach and 3-5 overall. Miamisburg shocked West Carrollton winning 27-24 winning for the first time after losing 5 straight contests. West Carrollton had been on a roll, knocking off two previously unbeaten squads in Edgewood and Monroe. The Pirates are now 4-4 on the season but they are still in first place in the MML South. They host Franklin on Friday, then travel to Fenwick next week.
Editor's Note: Information from The Middletown Journal and Dayton Daily News was used in this report.