Monarchs defense plagues Pirates

By Reggie Ellis

Defense led the Monarchs to their second win of the season in a 28-7 victory over the Reedley Pirates last Friday in Exeter.

Reedley racked up some yards on the ground in the first half, but a halftime adjustment helped the Monarchs to shut down Reedley's running attack holding the Pirates to -18 yards of total offense for the entire second half.

"We were lined up wrong in the first half," Coach Ben White said. "Once we got the defense in the right spots our strategy began working the way we had planned."

The first quarter ended with scoreless tie and Exeter driving for its first touchdown. The Monarchs opened the second quarter on the Pirates' 21 yard line. After a nine-yard run, Exeter fumbled the ball at the 13 yard line but recovered. The Monarchs stayed on the ground with 8-yard run to the 5 yard line and then a run to the 1. With a first and goal from the 1, quarterback Chris Mayabb rolled right and then ran it in for the Monarchs first score at 10:14 in the second quarter. Exeter missed the point after for a 6-0 lead.

Reedley answered back on the next drive with an 11-yard touchdown run with 7:00 left in the half. Reedley took the lead 7-6.

Exeter fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Reedley recovered and returned the ball to the Monarchs' 12-yard line. A penalty pushed the Pirates back to the 45 yard line. Reedley drove the ball to the Monarchs' 16 yard line. On first down, Exeter's Eric Capello picked off Reedley quarterback Vidal Garcia and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown with 3:42 left in the half. After two-point conversion was called back following a penalty, Mayabb threw a corner fade to Eric Capello to give the Monarchs a 14-7 lead.

The Monarch defense almost intercepted two more Reedley passes on the following drive. Reedley quarterback Garcia was also sacked for a 3-yard loss with 1:12 minutes in the half, forcing the Pirates to punt again.

Following the punt return to the Monarchs' own 40 yard line, Mayabb rolled left and threw the ball up just before he was hit. Capello slowed down, adjusted to the ball, tiptoed the sidelines and ran to the endzone for a 21-7 lead with under a minute to go. Exeter's Patrick Hetcheson intercepted the ball at the 42 yard line to end the half.

Mayabb threw for 129 yards and two touchdowns on eight of 13 passing. Capello lead the Monarchs in receiving with eight catches for 124 yards.

"Our offense did enough to score, but defense really stepped up," White said.

The teams would trade turnovers and penalties through the third quarter. On the Monarchs' first drive, Reedley intercepted Mayabb at the Pirates' 41-yard line. The Monarch defense stuffed the run on first down and on second down Vince Pascoe sacked the Reedley quarterback to bring up third and 28. The defensive line again stuffed the Pirates forcing a punt on fourth and 29. The Pirates' Julio Cay intercepted another Mayabb and returned started at Exeter's 38-yard line. On another crucial third-down play, Pascoe got his second sack of the night forcing Reedley into a fourth and 17 at the 45-yard line.

Reedley made a quarterback change in the fourth quarter with nearly the same results. Capello nearly intercepted Reedley's Scott Hacker on the first drive as it just slipped off his fingertips. The very next pass, Exeter's Patrick Hutcheson held onto an interception for a long return. It was called back, putting the Monarchs at their own 18 yard line.

With the lead, the Monarchs kept the ball on the ground and racked up 140 yards rushing in the second half. Following a series of penalties by both teams, Exeter running back Aaron Gress ripped through the defense for 25 yards down to Reedley's 13 yard line. Gress lead the Monarchs with 118 yards on 17 carries. The Monarchs drove to the 5 yard line on third down, bringing up fourth down with two yards to go. Mayabb rolled left and leaped over a defender for the Monarchs final touchdown with 1:51 left in the game.

On Reedley's next possession, Hutcheson sealed the game with his third interception of the game and the defense's fourth interception. Mayabb took a knee to run out the clock for the Monarchs' 28-7 win.

The Monarchs (2-0) will now prepare for their first road game against Granite Hills in Porterville. The Grizzlies enter the non-league game with a 0-2 record. In their last game, Granite Hills lost to Clovis West 53-0.

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