Football: Monarchs fall in 2nd round

Exeter ends their season with a 49-39 loss to Dos Palos

By Jermaine Johnson II  @Jerm_10

DOS PALOS – Two weeks ago, the No. 11 Monarchs were the second lowest seed to make it out of the first round of the Division V valley playoffs. Their season ended a week later with a loss to the No. 3 Dos Palos Broncos.

The two teams matched big plays all night. After a touchdown connection between juniors Gavin Diaz and Teneil Nichols, the Monarchs missed an extra point that would have tied the game at 14 points in the first quarter. That one missing point proved to be costly in the high scoring battle that would ensue.

The Broncos scored again with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, and then converted a 2-point conversion that put them ahead 22-13. The Monarchs got the ball first coming out of halftime but it was the Broncos with the first points of the second half. That touchdown gave them a 16-point lead which was too much for Exeter to come back from.

“Those two touchdowns were the difference in the game,” Exeter head coach Keirsten Lamb said. “After that, we were chasing them by a touchdown the whole time.”

The Monarchs opened the fourth quarter with another touchdown pass, this one to junior Hank Williams. Diaz ended with 200 yards passing and two touchdowns.

The passing game was hitting on all cylinders throughout the night, largely due to a monster game from Nichols. He ended the game with 162 yards receiving and three touchdowns. The Monarch offense pulled out every trick they had, including a running back pass to Nichols that went for a score.

“After Teneil caught a couple of balls, [Dos Palos] tried to bracket him and rolled their coverage to his side. It freed us up to throw the ball to other people,” said Lamb.

The fourth quarter had enough action for the entire game as the Monarchs tried to claw their way back. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense as the two teams combined for 46 points in just the final period. The Monarchs outscored the Broncos 26-20, but went on to lose by ten points. Since they missed the earlier extra point, they consistently tried to go for two after touchdowns, but only converted one of them. Those missing points continued to add up and it would have been a much different game had they converted.

The porous defense for the Monarchs is a big reason their season is over. They missed tackles and couldn’t get stops when they needed them.

“We had them pinned deep a few times but then they converted on third and long,” said Lamb. “We were in the game the whole time but we could never get a stop to give ourselves that opportunity to win.”

Exeter ended their season with a 5-7 record, which is an improvement over the 2-8 finish in 2018. They got out to a strong 3-1 start before hitting a rough patch in their schedule. They had a tough time against league opponents as they finished 1-4 against the Central Sequoia League. Last week’s win over longtime rival Woodlake was their biggest moment of the season as it gave the team their first playoff victory since 2015.

“Making it to the second round was good for us, we did some good things and grew a bunch in the last couple weeks. There was a lot of learning that took place this season.” said Lamb.

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