Turnovers costly for A-J in playoff loss to Monticello
The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team trailed host Monticello 21-14 at the half Saturday, Nov. 3.
The Sages took over in the second half to score four unanswered touchdowns on their way to a 49-14 win over the Wildcats in the second round of the Illinois High School Association Class 3A postseason playoffs.
A-J head football coach Brett Detering said that turnovers hurt the Wildcats in the playoff game.
“We needed defensive stops and things just didn’t go our way. But they’re a really strong football team and there is a reason why they’re undefeated at this point,” Detering added.
A-J ended the 2018 season at 8-3 overall. Monticello advances with a 11-0 record.
The Wildcats shot themselves in the foot with four fumbles that resulted in four TDs.
“Sometimes, when you give up the ball, it’s hard to recover,” Detering said. “The third quarter wasn’t a good quarter for us. It just wasn’t our day.”
The Sages’ offense started clicking early in the third quarter.
After a 10-play drive to open the second half, Monticello quarterback Braden Snyder connected with Asher Bradd for a 3-yard TD pass.
Benton Singleton’s extra point kick put the Sages ahead 28-14 with 7:37 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wildcats fumbled on their ensuing drive and lost the ball.
After three plays, Snyder connected with Alek Bundy for a 5-yard TD pass.
Singleton’s extra point kick put the Sages ahead 34-14 with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wildcats fumbled again on their next drive and lost the ball.
On the ensuing play, Snyder hit Bundy for a 5-yard TD pass.
Singleton’s extra point kick put Monticello ahead 42-14 with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter.
A-J fumbled again on its next drive and the Sages recovered.
Four plays later, Bundy scored on a 20-yard run. Singleton’s extra point kick closed out the scoring with 11:01 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats opened the game with the help of a Sages miscue.
After A-J was forced to punt at midfield on its opening drive, the punt return was mishandled and Ethan Ralls recovered for A-J.
Reid Morrison then scored on a 12-yard run at the end of a six-play drive.
Noah Treece’s extra point kick gave A-J a 7-0 advantage with 6:42 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats fumbled again and the Sages recovered on the ensuing drive.
“We had a chance to extend the lead,” Detering said. “But we put the ball on the ground. We had a hole to get out of. We needed a defensive stop in a big way.”
However, one play later, Snyder connected with Bundy for a 33-yard TD pass.
Singleton’s extra point tied the game 7-7 with 3:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats then drove the length of the field on a 15-play drive before losing the ball again on a fumble.
Bradd then came back to score for the Sages on the next play on a 78-yard run.
Singleton’s extra point kick put Monticello ahead 14-7 with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter.
On an onside kick on the next play, the Sages recovered near midfield.
Devin Graham then scored on a 3-yard run after a five-play drive.
Singleton’s extra point kick put Monticello ahead 21-7 with 5:14 remaining in the second quarter.
A-J quarterback Conner Jerolds then scored on a 1-yard run after a lengthy 15-play drive.
Treece’s extra point kick closed out the scoring in the first half 21-14 with :40 remaining.
A-J’s Devon Toliver then intercepted Snyder’s pass to thwart the Sages’ drive.
The Wildcats were at midfield when the first half concluded.
Jerolds led A-J’s rushing attack with 143 yards on 30 carries. Damien Chrisp added 49 yards on 14 carries. Morrison had 39 yards on 7 carries. Carson Pengress had 12 yards on 2 carries.
Jerolds was 2 of 6 passing for 27 yards. Garrett Fabec led the way with a 20-yard pass reception.
“I’m proud of our kids after starting off 0-2 on the season,” Detering said. “They won a conference championship. One thing for sure – they never quit and they fought to the very end. It will be a challenge now to replace all our seniors.”
The Wildcats will graduate 21 seniors from this season’s squad.