The Monterey football team may not be peaking right now, but the Plainsmen sure are playing their best football of the year.
Because they are, they’re also moving on to the area round for the first time in five years.
Jacob Bartholomae and Vincent Johnson led a dominant running attack, and the Plainsmen defense
shut down Palo Duro’s big-play ability for a 38-16 victory over the Dons in a Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff Friday night at Lowrey Field.
“The kids responded well again,” Plainsmen head coach Todd Pearson said. “All three phases were clicking good tonight. We’ve still got a lot to work on, and it’s a good thing we’ve got another week to work those kinks out. But overall the kids did a good job and did the things they needed to and responded well to a good football team.”
The win puts the Plainsmen (8-3) in the area round for the first time since 2007 and breaks a two-game losing streak in the bi-district round. Monterey will face El Paso Andress (7-4) in the area round at 1 p.m. on Friday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.
As long as Monterey’s offense is churning up yards the way it has the past four weeks, it may not matter where or when.
The return of running back Travon Benton from a knee injury sparked the Monterey offense and gave it that added third-option dimension the running game had been missing. Benton finished with 63 yards and three touchdowns, but the real damage was done by others.
Quarterback Jacob Bartholomae rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown, and Vincent Johnson added 150 yards as the Plainsmen accumulated 364 rushing yards and 453 total yards on the Dons (6-5).
Bartholomae was also effective in the passing game, completing 4 of 6 for 89 yards and a touchdown.
“Monterey did a good job of establishing its offense and we didn’t do a very good job of stopping it,” Palo Duro coach Steve Parr said. “They did a good job executing and we had some opportunities to score where we didn’t put points on the board, and that hurt us, and they kept responding. I give them a lot of credit for how they played.”
The Monterey defense was also effective in negating the Dons’ speed advantage.
Palo Duro had just two plays that gained more than 20 yards, a 31-yard pass to Antaun Turner that set up a first-half field goal and a 78-yard catch and run for a touchdown by Charleston White that came only after Monterey had taken a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.
Quarterback Malik Sims rushed for 94 yards on 16 carries, all but 18 of that coming in the second half. Sims was also threw for 180 yards on 12-of-23 completions, most of that also coming after halftime.
“We played flawlessly defensively,” senior defensive back Jesse Perez said. “They tried to throw on us and didn’t really get much. They tried to run on us and we sniffed that out, too. As long as we could keep them running East and West and not North and South, we knew we could haul them down and get the win.”
Aside from being stopped on downs at the Palo Duro 28 on its opening drive of the game, Monterey completely dominated the first half in every way in setting the tone with its offense. The Plainsmen racked up 268 total yards in the first two periods, 224 of that on the ground.
Bartholomae (107 rushing yards) and Johnson (97) each accounted for more yards than the entire Palo Duro team garnered the first half (91).
“I was disappointed we weren’t able to get some points on that first drive,” Pearson said. “But we took some time off the clock and saw what we needed to see as far as adjusting what we were doing offensively, and by the time we got to the second series I think we were OK and ready to move into a groove.”
The Plainsmen chewed up 86 yards in 12 plays on their second drive, pounding the Dons defense with the running game for the first 11 plays before Bartholomae hit Jon Fay on a post route for a 28-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead five seconds before halftime.
Palo Duro answered with a 34-yard Tito Estrada field goal set up by a 31-yard pass to Turner on third-and-12.
But Monterey responded by going 91 yards in seven plays for its next touchdown, 75 of those yards covered in one run by Johnson. That eventually led to a 1-yard sneak by Bartholomae on third-and-goal to make it a 14-3 game.
Monterey’s defense forced a three-and-out and the offense drove right back down the field for another score. A 25-yard keeper by Bartholomae led to a 3-yard Travon Benton run with 59 seconds left, handing Monterey a 21-3 halftime lead.
The Plainsmen kept up the assault in the second half, taking their opening drive of the third quarter down for another touchdown. A 31-yard pass to Trey Rowe set up a 9-yard Benton touchdown run on the next play to push the lead to 28-3.
After Palo Duro made it 28-9 on a White’s 78-yard touchdown, the Plainsmen answered in just four plays, getting a 16-yard touchdown run from Benton to make it 35-9.
The Dons added one final touchdown with under a minute left on a 10-yard run by backup running back Anthony McLain, but by that time the game was well over, and the Plainsmen were headed to the next round with a gold football in hand.
“It’s do or die every week, and we’ve got to play like its the last time we’ll ever play football,” Pearson said. “Once you get that in your mind, and the kids believe that, I think it’s hard to beat a team when you do that. But we’ve still got to execute and keep doing things right and remember what got us here, and just keep doing the good things.”
To comment on this story:
CLASS 4A DIVISION I BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
at Lowrey Field, Lubbock
MONTEREY 38, PALO DURO 16
Palo Duro 0 3 6 7 — 16
Monterey 7 14 7 10 — 38
MON — Jon Fay 28 pass from Jacob Bartholomae (Davis Williamson kick); :05
PD — Tito Estrada 34 FG; 8:39
MON — Bartholomae 1 run (Williamson kick); 5:00
MON — Travon Benton 3 run (Williamson kick); :59
MON — Benton 9 run (Williamson kick); 7:45
PD — Charleston White 78 pass from Malik Sims (kick failed); :43
MON — Benton 16 run (Williamson kick); 10:34
MON — Williamson 37 FG; 4:30
PD — Anthony McLain 10 run (Estrada kick); :37
First downs 13 25
Rushes-yards 26-136 51-364
Passing yards 180 89
Comp.-att.-int. 12-23-0 4-6-0
Punts-avg. 4-25.7 1-35.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 4-29 1-15
RUSHING: Palo Duro, Malik Sims 16-94, Antaun Turner 7-23, Anthony McLain 3-18; Monterey, Jacob Bartholomae 20-153, Vincent Jackson 14-150, Travon Benton 18-63, Camden Arnold 1-(-2).
PASSING: Palo Duro, Sims 12-23-0—180; Monterey, Bartholomae 4-6-0—89
RECEIVING: Palo Duro, Charleston White 2-80, Turner 3-46, Joseph Taylor 3-45, Montrel Meander 3-18, Dee Taylor 1-1; Monterey, Trey Rowe 1-31, Jon Fay 1-28, Blake Walden 1-18, Adam Medina 1-14.