WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — The Red Jackets may have given up their first touchdown in over two months, but the defense stole the show in a 14-6 victory over Health Sciences (VI)
Monroe forced five turnovers in the game, snagging three interceptions and recovering two fumbles. Nazhier Wilson snagged two picks while Tahjmir Mullins recorded the other.
“We’ve been doing this since school started,” said Mullins of his defense’s performance. “Play football at the end of the day. If you mess up, still be an athlete. We’ve got great athletes at Monroe. Practice like you play.”
Monroe scored twice in the first five minutes of the game. On the second play from scrimmage, Khaya Moses threw a screen pass to Amari Colon who took it 56 yards for a touchdown. After Mullins recorded an interception on a pass that was tipped multiple times, he finished what he started with a seven-yard touchdown to make it 12-0.
“The mindset for us was to stay at an even keel. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low,” said Monroe head coach Terrel Cunningham on his team’s fast start. “You can’t take yourself out of your game by being overly pumped up. Sometimes you’ve just to be locked in and dialed in and let the game go how it goes.”
The Red Jackets would add two more points when a Health Sciences snap sailed over their punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety. However, that was the last time Monroe would score.
The defense was more than up to the task, despite giving up a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Kavon Pitts which made it 14-6. The score was the first allowed by the Red Jackets since their first game of the season, which was followed up by eight straight shutouts.
The Falcons got the ball back down eight with a chance to tie the game, but Monroe’s defense held strong. Dashon Constantine recorded a sack on the final drive which all but sunk any comeback effort.
“If the game’s on the line, I want my defense on the field,” Cunningham said. “If I’ve got to close out a game, I want my defense. Those guys play with my energy, my passion on that side of the ball. I look forward to it, I look forward to those opportunities.”
Monroe’s win is the first in the state regional round in program history after the Red Jackets captured a sectional title for the first time since 1979.
“It feels good. For me, this is what was expected,” said Cunningham. “We’ve been talking about this since November 11th when we lost to Batavia at Brockport. So the expectation was to get to this point.
Primetime 585 interviews Monroe after their big win
Monroe (11-0) will take on Maine-Endwell on Saturday, November 25th at 3:00 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Maine-Endwell has won the last two Class B state championships and has won six titles since 2011. Cunningham called M-E one of the best programs in the state.