By Mike Monahan
MONTICELLO – The No. 4 team in Class 3A, Monticello used its speed to stop Mattoon’s offense and took advantage of several Green Wave miscues to post a 43-0 victory Saturday.
“They have as good of team speed across the board through defensive line, linebacker and defensive backs they have as good of team speed as anybody we have played,” said Mattoon coach Troy Johnson. “We have played some bigger, for sure. All of their kids can run. They are good football players and they are well coached and they run well. Speed has always been a killer. I don’t care what level you are at.”
The Green Wave finished with 102 yards on 59 plays and only got into Monticello territory twice. Jakiah Johnson led the Green Wave in rushing with 19 carries for 41 yards, while Jackson Spurgeon completed four of 18 passing attempts for 24 yards and an interception.
Mattoon was forced to punt on its first possession and stopped Monticello on its first possession as a torrential downpour came down with about eight minutes left in the first quarter. The Sages, with a gusty wind at its back, punted 47 yards to the Mattoon 4-yard-line.
After a loss of three yards, Mattoon fumbled and Chris Brown recovered for the Sages at the 1-yard line. Two plays later Brown raced around his left side from three yards out. The two point conversion was good shen Hayden Graham connected with Brown for an 8-0 lead.
A three-and-out for Mattoon gave Monticello the ball on the Green Wave 30 after MHS lost 14 yards on the series.
“Us kicking off with the wind and us being able to force the punt was humongous,” said Monticello coach Cully Welter. Monticello took only one play after being called for a false start to score when Sprinkle ran for 10 yards before pitching back to Brown who raced the other 25 in for the touchdown. Sprinkle’s PAT made it 15-0.
“That was a big turnaround, but everybody plays in it,” said Johnson of the weather.
Mattoon moved into Monticello territory in seven plays but a holding penalty moved them back. Then Brown intercepted a Spurgeon pass for a touchdown. The PAT made it 22-0 lead with 10:01 left in the half.
“I felt like they would be very patient on offense and, if they could get three to five yards a pop, it would be difficult,” said Welter. “Fortunately, we were able to play really good defense today.”
Mattoon moved to the Monticello 43-yard line with the help of penalties and a nine-yard run by Johnson as well as a three-yard run by Zachary Shick on a fourth-one-one. The Green Wave later fumbled away the ball at its 48-yard line.
Dakota Spencer picked off a middle screen for the Green Wave and took over on its own 36, but could not get anything going.
Monticello remained ahead 22-0 at the half as the rain subsided.
“At halftime we told them we have to cut down on our mistakes,” said Johnson. “We tried to make an adjustment a little bit as we were trying to do things to go away from Jason Brown, who is a good football player. We couldn’t even seem to do that.”
Neither team scored until Kolton Kauffman blocked a punt and Kaleb Reid recovered for the Sages at the Mattoon 19. Three plays later Brown scored on a 10-yard run and Sprinkle added the point after for a 29-0 Monticello lead.
Mattoon’s next possession forced a punt and again it was blocked with Cayden Knierim scoring and the extra point made it 36-0.
I am not an excuse kind of guy,” said Johnson. “We got beat. We will go back to the drawing board and start getting ready for Lincoln. “
Welter knows they got a lot of breaks.
“I told coach Johnson after the game that I felt like we got a lot of breaks,” said Welter. “The pick six and a couple of other turnovers and two blocked punts. It was just a lot of things that went our way and we were very thankful for it.”
Monticello’s Chris Brown finishing with nine carries for 67 yards and Sprinkle was 4-of-8 for 60 yards and a TD.
“Mattoon is well-coached and, defensively, they get to the ball very well,” said Welter of his thoughts before the game. “I was impressed with the defense on tape.”
Johnson said the defense did all right, but “You can’t give them that many opportunities. They have a good football team and you just can’t give them that many opportunities to score especially when you are struggling like we were offensively.”
Chris Brown scored four touchdowns for the Sages, who improved to 4-0.
“He had 1,400 yards last year and he has been struggling all year,” said Welter. “This year it has been a struggle as he didn’t have 100 yards in three games. I was nice to see him have success as he is a really talented kid.”
Mattoon, now 1-3, will play host to Lincoln at 7 p.m. on Friday at Gaines Field.
“Hopefully, we will have everybody back that were missing in this game,” said Johnson. “We had three that were not at our full disposal, two, two way starters and a one-way starter that were not at our disposal. Still it is next man up as the next guy has to be ready to go.”
Monticello – Chris Brown 2 run (Hayden Graham pass to Chris Brown) 5:20
Monticello – Brown 30 run (Joey Sprinkle kick) 3:00
Monticello – Brown 47 interception return (Sprinkle kick) 10:05
Monticello – Brown 10 run (Sprinkle kick) 5:20
Monticello – Ashton Wassom recovery blocked put in end zone (Sprinkle kick) 2:50
Monticello – Graham 45 pass from Sprinkle (Sprinkle kick) 11:50
Mattoon – Jakai Johnson 19-41; Jackson Spurgeon 16-25; Zachary Shick 6-12; totals 41-78
Monticello – Joey Sprinkle 16-0; Chris Brown 9-67, 2 TDS; Jason Brown 1-8; Jacob Tackett 1-0; Drew Sheppard 4-(-5); Taylor Bundy 2-1; Totals 33-76, 2 TDS
Mattoon – Spurgeon 4-18-1-24, 0 TDs
Monticello – Sprinkle 4-8-0-62, TD; Sheppard 1-1-0-2, 0 TDs
Mattoon – Shick 2-15; Logan Blackburn 1-2; Kegan Kirts 1-7
Monticello – Triston Foran 1-5; C. Brown 1- (-3); Graham 2-58,TD; Tyler Hogan 1-2