By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
One team knew it would come away from Friday’s game with a 1-4 record — the winner hoping to turn around its season, the loser knowing it was a better team than its record showed.
Unfortunately for Camanche, the Indians were in the latter situation after falling 28-21 to Monticello in Class 2A District 4 football Friday night.
“We can’t be down on ourselves; we played a good game,” Camanche quarterback Cody Mensinger said. “They’re good, we’re good; it was a good game.”
Mensinger, who completed 10 of his first 12 passes, finished 12-for-20 passing for 161 yards with a pair of touchdown strikes.
Each team scored on its opening possession of the game, then Mensinger and Monticello quarterback Jacob Black battled back and forth in an exciting second quarter that ended with Monticello leading 21-18. The Panthers almost made it 24-18, but Tanner Felton’s 50-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright of the goal post with 1 second remaining.
Black struck first in the second period.
With his team leading 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, Black opened the second period with a 45-yard scoring strike to Chris Tjaden. Black ran a play-action fake after the Panthers ran on each of their first 13 plays, and found Tjaden in stride down the middle between the 20 and 25 yard lines.
“It was a great play,” said Black, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 127 yards. “We had been setting up our run all night. The offensive line was fantastic.”
Camanche responded with its own touchdown drive, a 13-play, 68-yard march that took 6 minutes, 22 seconds off the clock. It ended with a leaping Derek Harksen reaching over Jarrett Easton to haul in a 17-yard pass from Mensinger with 5:30 left in the half.
“We’ve been working recently on reading the defense more, and it’s been paying off,” Mensinger said. “They were in man a lot.”
After the teams traded three-and-out series, Black guided Monticello’s two-minute offense on a four-play, 67-yard drive that required just 1:09. A 44-yard pass to Tyler Johnson set up the Panthers’ at the Camanche 10-yard line. On the next play, Tanner Felton ran the ball into the end zone for a 21-12 lead with 1:37 left in the half.
But it left Mensinger too much time.
After Aaron Shum returned the kickoff to his own 44-yard line, Mensinger took over and led Camanche on a seven-play, 56-yard scoring drive. He completed a 24-yard pass to Lucas Thiede on fourth-and-10 from the Monticello 44, then found Mike Osaro deep in the right side of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring pass on the next play.
“It was our homecoming,” Mensinger said. “We knew we had high spirits to win. We were all pumped up. We kept our heads in it.”
Black scored the lone touchdown of the second half, giving Monticello a 28-18 lead with 8:21 left in the third quarter on a 29-yard run.
Camanche got back within 28-21 when Zach Smith kicked a 33-yard field goal with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
After that, the defenses took center stage in the fourth quarter.
The Indians blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Felton and forced the Panthers to punt twice, while Monticello forced Camanche to punt three times before Felton sealed the win with an interception at the Camanche 39 with 58 seconds remaining.
Camanche coach Steve Dougherty sighted “little things” as the Indians’ Achilles’ heel.
“There were several pass plays where we had breakdowns in coverage,” he said. “We don’t wrap up; we get carried 3-4 yards. We don’t maintain blocks. We don’t read blocks from time to time.”
Over the first half of the season it’s made the difference between Camanche having a 1-4 record and something better.
“Our record doesn’t reflect what we’re capable of playing, but little mistakes that the other teams capitalize on put us in this situation,” Dougherty said. “The effort was very solid; the execution needs improvement.
MONTICELLO 28, CAMANCHE 21
Monticello 7 14 7 0 — 28
Camanche 6 12 3 0 — 21
C — Devin Norman 1 run (kick failed), 8:25
M — Jacob Black 1 run (Tanner Felton kick), 4:17
M — Chris Tjaden 45 pass from Black (Felton kick), 11:52
C — Derek Harksen 17 pass from Cody Mensinger (run failed), 5:30
M — Felton 10 run (Felton kick), 1:37
C — Mike Osaro 20 pass from Mensinger (pass failed), :40
M — Black 20 run (Felton kick), 8:21
C — FG, Zach Smith 33, 2:16
RUSHING — Monticello, Logan McQuillen 10-51, Tanner Felton 18-82, Jacob Black 9-71, Sawyer Herman 1-0, Team 2-minus-2; Camanche, Devin Norman 16-59, Aaron Shum 8-33, Cody Mensinger 11-1, Quan Matthew 2-3.
PASSING — Monticello, Black 5-7-0-127; Camanche, Mensinger 12-20-1-161.
RECEIVING — Monticello, Chris Tjaden 1-45, Tyler Johnson 1-44, McQuillen 2-33; Camanche, Derek Harksen 1-17, Isaah Jackson 1-13, Mike Osaro 4-35, Norman 3-47, Shum 1-12, Lucas Thiede 2-37.