Monticello comes up short against Fordyce

“We are disappointed but not discouraged,” Monticello head football coach Marty Davis said after his Billies fought back from a 16-point deficit only to fall 30-24 to Class 3A Fordyce in Monticello’s home opener Friday night at Hyatt Field.
With the loss, the Billies are now 1-2—and not where Davis wanted them to be after the non-conference portion of their schedule at all. Monticello has been in this position before, though, and rebounded to salvage the season.  
“I thought we played well enough to win the game,” Davis said. “It was a close game that went back and forth. Our kids played very hard but every time we would get in position to make a play, Fordyce would make one to go back up. When they got people on the edge or in space that gave us problems. But our kids continued to play hard and never gave up in the game.”
A pair of big plays again spelled doom for the Billies but these two weren’t on special teams. The last, a 59-yard run by Redbug sophomore Tray Hudson late in the game burst Monticello’s balloon after the Billies had fought back from a shocking 24-8 deficit midway through the third quarter.
Even though the hosts didn’t commit a turnover and cut penalties way down from the previous two weeks, it was a mental mistake that gave Fordyce an edge, Davis noted.  
“At the end of the third quarter, we were tied at 24 and a facemask penalty kept our defense on the field,” the fourth-year coach explained. “I think if we could have got the ball at that time we had a chance to go up and possibly win the game. Even so, after their score, we got the ball and did not convert. We just ran out of time.”
The first half was no indication of the scoring that would come after intermission. Fordyce went up 8-0 on a Billy Ferrell 10-yard run and a Colton Musgrove two-point conversion run in the opening 15 minutes. Monticello answered back in a big way in the second period.
Senior quarterback Ryan Lambert hooked up with classmate Jiehron Yarbrough for a 78-yard touchdown pass and, after junior Kevious Simpson ran in the two-point conversion, the game was knotted at 8. That would be the score as the teams went to their locker rooms at intermission.  
The Redbugs came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, however, putting up two quick scores that stunned both the Billies and their home-opening crowd. Hudson put Fordyce up with an 84-yard run and Jaheim Brown scored from three yards out which, with two successful two-point plays, gave the Redbugs their 16-point cushion.
Monticello climbed back into the contest behind Lambert’s arm. He connected with senior Ralph Iweriebor from 47 yards out before finding Yarbrough again on a 56-yard touchdown pass. Simpson and senior Aaron Spencer were both good on two-point conversions that gsve the Billies a chance. Unfortunately for Monticello, those scores also set up Hudson’s game-winning run.
“We did have some bright spots in the game,” Davis said. “Our passing game was a factor in that our quarterback threw the ball well and our receivers were able to make some plays. The running game produced yards, and we made all of our two-point conversions, which kept us in the game.”
Lambert finished with 217 yards on 7-of-19 passing, and he also added a team-leading 67 yards on the ground. With the two long touchdown receptions, however, Yarbrough was the offensive star of the night. The senior wide receiver totaled 143 yards receiving on only three catches.
Defensively, seniors Zaydrian Goodwin and Austin Patton led the Billies with eight tackles each. Of those, all eight of Goodwin’s were solo tackles; six of Patton’s were.
“Losing is never fun, but we have a week to correct our mistakes and put ourselves in a position to play better this week,” Davis noted. “Our next game is the start of conference play and a new motivation for our team.
“Injuries are always a concern. We got a couple of people banged up Friday but still expect to have them for next week.”
Indeed, this weekend kicks off a brand new part of the schedule—what many coaches like to call “the second season.” Class 4A, District 8 play will be tough, Davis admitted—but, then again, it always is.
The final week of non-conference action saw only defending 4A state champion Warren win among 8-4A schools. The Lumberjacks are the only team to enter conference play with a record above .500 as they downed 5A Watson Chapel 20-12 last Friday.
Star City, Monticello’s opening 8-4A foe, fell to 1-2 as well by suffering a 49-21 thumping at the hands of Nettleton. In other games, it was Ashdown blowing out Hamburg 55-10; Bauxite squeaking by Dumas 20-16; McGehee getting the better of Crossett 26-12; and Stuttgart pummeling DeWitt 46-16. Dollarway was open.
“Star City has the same record as we do,” Davis pointed out, “and has played a similar schedule. They have played very well against some good teams. They are for sure better than they were last year and have some very good players. They will be well prepared; that game is always a tough game for us.”
Star City is pretty much in the same position as we are, in that we are both looking to bounce back from disappointing losses. Our kids will get better—and playing for the second week at home will be good for us.”
Kickoff at Hyatt Field is 7 p.m.

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