Switch it up: Monticello changes focus, accelerates past Western

Photo by Ashley Thornton

When you’re 5-0, you don’t really want to change the formula.


But more often than not, if you want to stay unbeaten, at some point you’ve got to change it.


“They stuffed our run from play one, great technique up front,” said Monticello senior quarterback Kevin Jarrell. “But it opened up some things on the outside.”


After weeks of winning with a prolific ground game, Monticello flipped the script Friday night, with Jarrell throwing for a career high 275 yards including a trio of touchdowns as the Mustangs beat Western 34-10. It was Monticello’s first win over the Warriors since 2013, continuing what’s becoming a revenge tour with the Mustangs’ third win over a squad that beat them a year ago.


The win vaults Monticello to 6-0 and sets up a showdown with fellow unbeaten Louisa County next week on the road. While that big one is looming next week, the Mustangs had to enjoy getting there, beating a rival that the Monticello seniors had continually come up empty against the last three years.


“We didn’t beat them our sophomore or our junior year and now we finally get to beat them,” said Monticello senior Austin Haverstrom. “It was great to have it home and have it on our way out.”


Monticello’s Jerrick Ayers helped the Mustangs kick the offense into gear in the second quarter, following up an 8-yard Jarrell touchdown run with a 41-yard catch and run with 5:39 to play in the first half. Jarrell helped make the touchdown happen by extending the play, reversing field and rolling back to his left before he found Ayers open across the middle.


“On film the past couple of weeks I’ve seen Jerrick sneak out,” Jarrell said. “Usually I don’t know where he is, but today we were on the same page, I was able to find him.”


Ayers caught the ball and exploded up field, actually bowing his head like an Olympic sprinter in the last few yards as he crossed the goal line untouched. The senior has become a more aggressive, decisive runner this season and it showed in the passing game as he blew past the Western secondary to help give Monticello a 14-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.


Monticello’s Ben Drake set up that touchdown with an interception and Drake turned in a strong performance throughout, including a fourth quarter touchdown catch from 15 yards out. Jarrell also found Trenton Johnson for a score, a 55-yard strike early in the third quarter that answered a quick Western touchdown to start the second half.


“We drew that up at halftime, just a great job by the coaches in the box seeing stuff, a great job blocking and a great job catching the ball,” Jarrell said.


Beyond Drake’s big play, the Monticello defense made several crucial smaller plays, including a Garrett Porterfield stuff on third down on Western’s opening drive that forced a field goal. That was one of eight stops on third down that the Mustangs made as Western managed to go just 2-for-10 on third downs.


The game was marred by an incredible number of penalties, with Monticello piling up a program record 165 penalty yards on 19 infractions. Western was flagged 16 times for a total of 148 yards, more yards than they ended with on offense as they logged just 109 total yards.


In part because of those penalties and in part because of struggles to convert on third down, the Warriors floundered for the fourth straight week on offense, finishing with just 48 yards on the ground and 61 through the air. Six of the Warriors’ nine first downs came on penalties.


Darren Klein scored a touchdown on the ground and Domecq connected on the 29-yard field goal in the first half.


Western will try and bounce back at home against Orange County while the Mustangs take their 6-0 record into The Jungle.


Odds are good the Mustangs will have to adjust and change the formula next week too.


“That’s going to be huge,” said Haverstrom, who finished with 65 yards on three catches. “It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”