Meadowbrook Seizes Win
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 9, 2013, 08:22
RYAN LAZO/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
RICHMOND — With 1:01 remaining in Meadowbrook’s second contest of the season, the game was in the Monarchs’ hands. They could both taste and smell their first victory of the season, but then disaster struck.
After trying to run out the clock and taking a delay of game penalty on fourth down to do so — the right call to make in that particular situation — the punt unit failed to do its job. The snap went awry from first movement as it skidded across the turf too low for punter Jonathan Gonzales to grab.
He immediately pounced on it, but the damage was done. Manchester had taken over on Meadowbrook’s 20-yard line with a chance to tie the game with a touchdown.
It marked the same scenario Monarchs’ head coach Troy Taylor was concerned about before the season started with such a young and inexperienced team. But this time his squad did not fold, but stiffened, tasting victory for the very first time in a 20-13 triumph.
“I’m just glad we came out of here with a victory,” Taylor said after the game.
“Now we can focus on playing Highland Springs next week.”
And Taylor can be glad with his team’s effort after putting up some dismal numbers during their season-opener just one week prior. Facing a tough Hermitage squad, Taylor’s team could not put a single point on the board in a 13-0 loss, no doubt fueling the team’s desire to get a win.
The extra energy was noticeable from the opening whistle as Terelle Whitaker took the game’s opening kick-off to the 45-yard line, prompting loud celebrations in the stands.
Then, Meadowbrook rode running back Justin Miller down the field for four consecutive plays, resulting in 23 yards gained on the ground, utilizing the holes created by an offensive line focusing on playing physically.
However, with this young Monarchs squad, one has to take the good with the bad as the drive stalled after a fumble just over 30 yards away from pay-dirt. Yet, what was so encouraging was the team never got too down and instead focused on the job at hand.
In fact, perhaps realizing the game would be an offensive struggle, the defense took control of the game in the first half. They allowed the Lancers to gain just one first down — it came on Manchester’s first drive of the game — in the entire first half.
It was a dominating effort that did not go unnoticed by Taylor.
“They played real tough,” he said after his team surrendered just 13 points in their second consecutive game. “Especially in the first half which set the tone.”
And while the defense did suffer some lapses in the second half of play, it also made some crucial plays when it mattered most.
After Monarchs’ quarterback Talik Mann threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown at the 9:13 mark in the third quarter, the defense settled. In fact, the defense took it in their own hands as the team’s lead Kane Smith intercepted a pass of his own while the Lancers marched for the tying score.
But that was not the only impact Smith had on the game.
Smith routinely darted from his linebacker position to make stops behind the line of scrimmage, cut down on the opposing running back’s angles and helped his teammates organize themselves before the ball was snapped.
“Kane’s the leader of our program right now,” Taylor said bluntly. “He just did a really great job all game long.”
But Kane was not alone in helping turn the tide in the second-half.
RYAN LAZO/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Following a touchdown drive by the Lancers, air seemingly was sucked out of the stadium as the Lancers pulled to within one point, 14-13. However,
Terelle Whitaker would not allow the Monarchs to lose their grasp on the game.
Whitaker stood in the back field for a kick-off return and followed some big-time blocks before marching into the end zone on a 71-yard special teams strike.
But of all the plays on Meadowbrook, only Mann’s performance can have a direct correlation between success and failure this season.
The sophomore was impressive in the first half of action, taking what the defense gave him in completing 8-of-10 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Mann did throw a pick-six in the second-half, but Taylor was encouraged with his performance.
“He’s getting a little bit more comfortable back there,” Taylor said after saying the interception was his fault. “He has more confidence and he’s just great kid.”
A quarterback getting more confident and a defensive player who makes big plays, Meadowbrook is a squad that continues to learn and could make some noise this season.