William Monroe’s October resurgence in district play hit a roadblock in Thursday’s regular season finale at Culpeper County.
“I give them credit, they can run the ball,” said Monroe coach Jon Rocha, as his defense surrendered 234 yards to the Blue Devils’ ground attack. “They blasted it through and we had trouble with that. They were really good, and they deserve everything they got tonight.”
Culpeper claimed the Northwestern District title, the program’s first in 17 years, with a 34-17 triumph over Monroe with the Dragons scoring late to close down the gap. With Spotsylvania’s loss, Culpeper (6-4) appears to have the inside track for the Region 3B bracket’s top seed, which could result in a re-match with William Monroe (3-7) next Friday, pending other outcomes and bonus points.
“Each week, we’re growing and we’re getting better,” said Culpeper coach Ken Wakefield. “A lot of guys had a great hand in the win tonight. We played solid defense; they got a couple on us there at the end, but outside of that we were doing really good things. I’m real proud of our guys. It was a special night for us, and we’ll build off of that.”
The Blue Devils’ first two possessions each stretched 12 plays and more than six minutes of game time. After receiving the opening kickoff, they covered 89 yards with five different players taking carries, and junior quarterback Eric Wilson tossed a 15-yard completion. Senior D’Aron Colbert capped it with a 3-yard score on third-and-goal.
“I was like, ‘we’ve got to get the ball in the endzone,’ and that’s what we did,” said Colbert. “Our linemen gave me a good push, quarterback read his keys, and the other backs gave me good blocking, and I just put the ball in the endzone.”
Monroe’s offense mounted an impressive and methodical first drive of its own; however, an unsuccessful halfback option pass on the first play of the second quarter setup a third-and-long which the ground game could not convert. On the drive’s 14th play, Rocha settled for a 36-yard field goal from Evan Taylor to make it 7-3. Culpeper responded by going 78 yards, with Wilson sneaking in from one yard out.
“Eric [Wilson] is very efficient running the offense,” said Wakefield. “He was out a little bit earlier [this season], and that made us kind of one-dimensional at times. He did a really nice job of executing our offense and doing what we need to do.”
Monroe had a chance in the final minute of the half with the offense at midfield, but Alex Kinsey’s jump-ball pass down the right sideline was intercepted by defensive back Armani Hoffman. After receiving the third quarter kickoff, the Dragons ran three times but picked up only one yard and had to punt into the wind.
“We thought if we could come out and score, even three points and get it to 14-6, we’re within one score,” Rocha said.
Instead, the Blue Devil offense found itself setup at the Monroe 48. Colbert took a third-and-5 handoff and raced 43 yards for what felt like a decisive touchdown, making the score 21-3.
“I just saw the opening; running backs gave me a good block and I just broke,” Colbert said.