Football: Exeter wins nail-biter against Lindsay
Monarch defense makes key stop in fourth quarter to seal 27-21 win over the Cardinals
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
EXETER – Statistically, Lindsay should have won the game. They won the time of possession, ran for more yards and had fewer penalties. But football comes down to execution and that is exactly what Exeter did to get their second win.
It was a very physical and tightly contested matchup as the 2-0 Cardinals hosted the 1-1 Monarchs. Both teams had something to prove and it showed from the start of the game. Lindsay was defending their home field after coming off another game that came down to the wire, as they went down to Morro Bay and won 7-0. Exeter was coming off an embarrassing 24-0 loss in the Valencia Cup to Woodlake.
“At points during the game, we shot ourselves in the foot” said Exeter Head Coach Keirsten Lamb. “We left some touchdowns on the field due to penalties and lack of execution.”
The Monarchs were able to get on the board first, as junior running back Hank Williams ran in a three-yard score for the only touchdown of the opening quarter. That score was set up by a fourth and 18 conversion on a double pass by the Monarchs, that went down to the one-yard line. They missed the ensuing point after try to make the score 6-0.
Williams was a force for the Monarchs on both sides of the ball. He scored three of the team’s four touchdowns and got a key interception in the second quarter.
“He really ran hard all night,” Lamb said. “He didn’t have a bunch of carries or big runs, but he’s a bruiser and scored touchdowns which were huge for us.”
The Cardinals responded in the second quarter with a strong drive that ended with points on the board. They converted on a key third down and then a few plays later senior Daniel Trujillo ran in a one-yard touchdown. They converted on their conversion which gave them a 7-6 lead. Trujillo was a true workhorse for his team, racking up over 130 yards on 39 carries.
The lead didn’t last long as the Monarchs responded instantly. On the next play, Lindsay kicked off to Exeter sophomore Dewayne Coleman who ran over 90 yards into the end zone. Instead of kicking the extra point, they went for two this time yet still couldn’t convert.
Nonetheless, the score was 12-7 and they were back in the lead. Both head coaches agreed that this was a big turning point in the game. “I think that return is what propelled us forward; it deflated Lindsay and our team was fired up,” said Lamb.
Later in the quarter, Williams made his presence felt again with an interception and long run back that should have put the Monarchs in scoring position. However, it was called back due to a block in the back. According to Coach Lamb, the team lost nearly 90 yards in about a drive and a half.
“When you give up all those yards in eight or nine plays, it is a back breaker but we were able to battle through it,” he said.
The Monarchs seemed to be getting into a rhythm coming out for the third quarter. They put together a nice drive that ended in another one-yard touchdown run by Williams. They finally converted on an extra point, pushing the score to 19-7. The momentum carried over on the defensive side of the ball as senior Aaron Boesch came up with a big interception for Exeter.
They had the ball on their own side of the field, but the Cardinals showed a ton of resilience. They were able to prevent the score, get the ball, and score on a touchdown pass from junior Randon Gomez to senior Mario Diaz. Diaz was all over the field, racking up around 200 all purpose. The score was now 19-14. The Cardinal offense showed a lot of promise, accumulating nearly 300 yards.
The fourth quarter came down to the final possession. Williams ran in a one-yard touchdown with about ten minutes to go. They ran for the two-point conversion and got it, pushing the score to 27-14. The Cardinals responded promptly with another long touchdown pass from Gomez to sophomore Elian Ibarra. Gomez completed 7 passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Down 27-21, the Lindsay defense made some key stops to give their offense the ball back twice, with chances to take the lead. The Cardinals were able to work the ball into the red zone, for a first and ten on Exeter’s 17-yard line. They dropped back to pass and faced pressure from the Exeter defense, causing Gomez to scramble out of bounds. He should have thrown the ball away as it was now second and 18, which eventually led to a turnover on downs. Head coach Matt Mendonca emphasized that his team must improve their situational awareness, specifically on that first down and then on Exeter’s fourth and 18 conversion back in the first.
They had another opportunity to score a few minutes later. They were marching down the field and converted some big plays to get on Exeter’s side of the field. It was the Monarch defense that made the biggest play of the game, when it was fourth and ten with the game on the line. Their defense stopped the Cardinals just one yard shy of the first down, which gave their offense the ball back with little time remaining. They were able to run out the clock, giving them their second win of the season, and the first loss for Lindsay.
Moving forward, both team’s schedules get harder as the season progresses. For Exeter, they play several teams who are still undefeated through the first third of the season. Next week, they are back at home as the 3-0 McLane Highlanders come into town. They have scored at least 48 points in every game and have only allowed a combined 12 points over the last two weeks. The Cardinals play their second of a four-game home stand, this week against Fowler. Both games kick off Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:15 p.m.