Purple Hurricanes 41, War Eagles 35
Difference maker: Monroe Area senior quarterback Floyd McCoy moved the chains all night with a team-high 151 yards rushing and two scores.
Stat that matters: Three turnovers for Chestatee, which Monroe Area converted in to two touchdowns. The final turnover, an interception by T.J. Sigmund with 44 seconds left, sealed the win.
Turning point: Already behind by two touchdowns, Chestatee fumbled the ball and Monroe Area’s Montavius Peters recovered at the War Eagles 17 yard line with 7:13 left in the third. The Purple Hurricanes scored again to go up 41-21 soon after.
Who’s next: Chestatee travels to North Hall to open the subregion schedule. Monroe Area travels to Oconee County.
Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg started the Chestatee football program in 2002, so he wasn’t surprised to see the War Eagles not quit after falling behind three scores.
The home team nearly came all the way back, converting an onside kick with one minute remaining and down by six.
But Purple Hurricanes defensive back T.J. Sigmund intercepted a deep pass from Chestatee quarterback Jordan Degraff with 44 seconds left to secure a 41-35 Monroe Area victory in the Region 8-AAA crossover matchup.
“They could have folded the tents when we were up three scores, but they never quit,” said Fligg, who coached at Chestatee from 2002-2005. “Coach (Stan) Luttrell and his staff has done a great job, and I’ll be pulling for Chestatee the rest of the year.”
It was the best game yet for the Monroe Area offense, led by senior quarterback Floyd McCoy with 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The Purple Hurricanes defense allowed a load of points to Degraff and the high-powered Chestatee offense, but they also forced three turnovers. The first two led to two touchdowns and the final sealed the win.
Degraff led Chestatee (3-1, 0-0 8-AAA North) with 212 yards passing on a 12-for-22 night with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and rushed for 67 yards and two more scores.
“We just never gave up but we could have played better; those three turnovers cost us the game” Degraff said. “But I feel like we can compete at the top of the region.”
The Chestatee offense hardly slowed down against a tough Monroe Area defense, racking up 450 yards total. Running back Brandon Thompson was the constant force, tallying 171 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Monroe Area (3-1, 0-0 8-AAA), which reached the state quarterfinals last season, led 41-28 midway through the third quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run by Darius Blackwell.
From there, Chestatee fought its way back.
The War Eagles used the rest of the quarter to get within two scores when Degraff barrelled in to the end zone from 1 yard out with one second on the clock to get within 41-28.
Midway through the fourth Chestatee embarked on another long drive, this one 18 plays and 95 yards, including two fourth-down conversions.
Degraff finished it off with a 7 yard run to get within one score at 41-35 with one minute remaining.
Leo Molina chipped the onside kick over the head of the first row of Monroe Area players, and Chestatee ran through and recovered the ball on the Purple Hurricanes 44 yard line.
Degraff picked up 10 yards on a pass to Kelly Arthur, who finished with seven receptions for 98 yards and a score, but Monroe Area stiffened in the final seconds.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Luttrell said. “They never quit and we worked our way in to an opportunity to win in the last minute.”
Chestatee fought against an explosive Monroe Area rushing attack (338 yards Friday) the entire game.
Monroe Area had a penchant for quick scores in the first half on their way to a 27-14 lead after two quarters.
McCoy led the way with 126 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
The senior quarterback found the end zone for the first time on just the second play of the game, running 78 yards for the score on an option keeper only 47 seconds in to the contest. The extra point was blocked, but the visitors held a 6-0 lead.
Chestatee came right back and turned a nine-play, 78-yard drive in to a 7-6 lead for the War Eagles on a 24 yard pass from Degraff to Kelly Arthur on third-and-long.
Monroe Area came back with a long drive in to Chestatee territory, but the Purple Hurricanes fumbled the ball on the Chestatee 22 yard line and Cody Etris scooped up the loose ball and raced to the 42 before being brought down.
This time was the War Eagles who would strike quick as Degraff found a wide open Kirk Schneider downfield for a 48 yard touchdown pass with 1:36 remaining in the opening quarter.
Degraff finished 5 for 8 for 121 yards with two touchdowns and an interception at the half.
The War Eagles signal caller had hardly gotten comfortable on the sideline after his second touchdown pass when he was pressed back in to service.
Because Monroe Area’s Junior Reed returned the Chestatee kickoff for a 88-yard touchdown. It was the only kick of the first half that the War Eagles didn’t get into the end zone, and the Purple Hurricanes took advantage.
Not content with a one-point deficit, Monroe Area faked the PAT and McCoy hit C.J. Byrd to tie the game at 14.
The Purple Hurricanes defense locked down in the second quarter, forcing a punt on Chestatee’s next possession and then intercepting Degraff deep in Monroe Area territory.
Monroe Area running back Kwan Brooks took advantage of the Chestatee turnover and blew past the defense for a 54 yard touchdown run.
McCoy added another touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the half to go ahead 27-14.
Thompson scored on an 80-yard run to open the third quarter, but Monroe Area responded by scoring two-straight touchdowns to go ahead by 20.