Prep football: Noles run past Skins 48-21

CALDWELL – Monroe Central evened its record at 2-2 on the year after a 48-21 over Caldwell Friday night at the Noble County Fairgrounds.

After getting off to an 0-2 start, the Seminoles have begun to right the ship, winning two in a row to get back to .500.

“We had a good effort out of a lot of people tonight,” said Monroe Central head coach Jay Circosta.

“When you score 48 points and play pretty good defense, you’re gonna win.”

It didn’t start exactly the way Circosta had hoped against the Redskins, as MC quarterback Curtis Nixon was sacked on a 1st-and-10 play at the 48-yard line. Nixon fumbled on the play, recovered by Caldwell’s Austin Shockling, who returned it to the Seminole 14. From there, Caldwell QB Tanner Clark ran in for a touchdown. Jason Allen’s kick made it 7-0 in favor of the ‘Skins.

An early 7-0 deficit on the road isn’t something most teams can easily recover from, but Monroe Central was able do so quickly.

On the ensuing possession, the Seminoles faced a 4th-and-1 at the Caldwell 17. Levi Brown powered forward for a gain of three to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Nixon hit Mike Jones on pass to the 1-yard line, where Jones fumbled, but Monroe Central’s Cordell Gauding was there to fall on it in the end-zone for the score. Nixon converted the PAT to tie things up.

After Caldwell went 3-and-out on its next possession, Monroe Central began its ensuing drive at the Caldwell 42. Penalties killed the Redskins in this instance, as two offsides calls and a pass interference set up the Seminoles at the 12-yard line. Brown’s next two carries went for six and five yards before Nixon scampered in for a 2-yard touchdown. The kick was no good, making the score 13-7.

Caldwell faced a 3rd-and-14 on its next drive when Clark was picked off by Bryan Duffy. Duffy returned it to the Caldwell 22, where Nixon and receiver Gavin Morton went to work.

Nixon hit Morton on a 9-yard gain on 4th-and-6 from the 18, then later on 4th-and-goal from the 6 Nixon threw a fade to the left corner of the end-zone that Morton came down with for a touchdown. Nixon then ran in the 2-point conversion to make it a 21-7 game with 5:15 remaining in the first half.

Caldwell finally put together a nice drive down the field on its next possession. After Bricker Lori had runs of 14 and four yards to put the ball on Monroe Central’s 41-yard line. Clark then found receiver Tanner baker open for an 18-yard gain. After Clark ran for eight yards to set up 3rd-and-2 at the 14, he again connected with Baker, this time on a 14-yard scoring strike to make it a one-possession game. Allen made the PAT to bring Caldwell within seven at 21-14. With just 1:12 remaining in the half, it looked like that would be the halftime score, but the Seminoles had other plans.

With the ball on the Monroe Central 35, Nixon ran for gains of 26 and 13 to set up 1st-and-10 at Caldwell’s 25. A false start moved the ball back to the 30 with under 20 seconds left, when Nixon threw a ball deep down the right sideline for Zach Jorris. Jorris got behind just behind the Caldwell secondary and made a nice catch for the score. The kick failed, but Monroe Central grabbed a ton of momentum going into the break up 27-14. Caldwell got the ball first in the second half. On 3rd-and-10 from their own 36, Clark hit Baker for what appeared to be a first down, but the Seminoles forced and recovered a fumble to take over at Caldwell’s 48. Runs of 15 and nine from Nixon and an 8-yard gain from Brown set up 1st-and-goal at the 5. Brown ran it from there, and Nixon’s pass to Jorris on the 2-point try was good to extend the lead to 35-14.

Fast-forward to the fourth quarter, Monroe Central recovered another Caldwell fumble on its own 42. Two plays later, Nixon went deep to Duffy for a 45-yard gain down the right sideline to put the ball at the 10. Brown found a hole and scored from there, making it 41-14.

“I thought our defense kind of got things together after that first drive,” Circosta said. “Came out in the second half and shut them down.”

Lori returned the ensuing kick-off 86 yards for pay-dirt to cut it to 41-21, but Nixon scored from a yard out on Monroe Central’s next possession to put the game well out of reach. Nixon’s TD was set up by a 38-yard burst from Brown, who had 126 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. “Levi ran extremely well,” Circosta said.Nixon ran it 19 times for 80 yards and two scores and was 8-for-15 through the air for 145 yards and two more TDs. He was also picked off once by Clark.

“Curtis still hasn’t got totally on track yet but he’s slowly coming,” Circosta said. “He threw some nice balls tonight.

“With each game he’s getting a little more experience and he’s starting to get more comfortable with the position.” Morton and Duffy led MC with 53 and 51 receiving yards respectively.

Clark was 4-for-7 passing for 50 yards, a score and an interception. He ran for 21 yards on six carries and a TD. Lori led the Redskins with 36 rushing yards on 12 touches. Baker hauled in four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Monroe Central out-gained Caldwell 374-112, including 229-62 in rushing yards.

“They were putting a lot of people in the box and we were still running the football, which is a good sign,” Circosta said.

The Seminoles are now 2-0 in the Pioneer Valley Conference and will take on undefeated Fort Frye in a crucial match-up in Woodsfield next week. Caldwell fell to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the PVC with the loss. The Redskins will try to rebound at River Friday.