By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
MONETT, Mo. —
Monett’s quick-strike offense and swarming defense left Eldon in a purple haze Saturday at Burl Fowler Stadium.
The Cubs scored three touchdowns of 45 yards or more in the first quarter and advanced to the Class 3 semifinals with a 49-6 victory in front of an overflow crowd.
Monett will play No. 1-ranked John Burroughs at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
The Cubs allowed 35 yards and one first down on the ground in the first half as they built a 36-0 lead. Eldon (8-5) finished with 104 total yards and scored its only touchdown 28 seconds before halftime on a 13-yard pass to Logan Shinn from quarterback Wyatt Greenwalt.
“We are Purple Haze and we take pride in what we do,” said lineman Reese Bounous, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior. “No one wants to be the hero on defense. We just want to make the play. That’s what makes us effective.”
Monett scored on its third play from scrimmage. Kurran Blamey, a senior receiver and running back, took a handoff and sprinted 55 yards for a touchdown 31⁄2 minutes into the game.
“Aaron Hall made a perfect block on a linebacker,” Blamey said. “He cleaned it up pretty well for me. It was great.”
The Cubs’ second possession ended with a missed field goal, but Monett scored twice in its next four plays on a 45-yard run by Aaron Hall and a 50-yard pass to Blamey from senior quarterback Kyle Woods.
“It was just a play-action pitch,” said Blamey, who rushed for 53 yards on four carries and had both of Monett’s pass completions for 50 yards. “We hadn’t thrown that in a lot of games. Our coaches up top saw their safety cheating, so we knew we could hit it across the middle.”
An interception by sophomore defensive back Zack Hammond set up Monett’s next touchdown. The Cubs’ five-play, 33-yard drive ended with a 20-yard touchdown run by Hall, who sidestepped a defender just before he lunged across the goal line. A 2-point conversion increased Monett’s lead to 29-0.
“Our offensive line definitely stepped up today, especially in this game, in this environment,” said Hall, who rushed for 154 yards on 20 carries in the first half. “It’s great to have them come through like that.”
Hall had two carries in the second half and finished with 178 yards on 22 attempts. Monett recovered an onside kick to begin the second half and scored two plays later.
A 20-yard run by Hall set up a 28-yard touchdown run by Matt Murphy that gave the Cubs a 43-6 lead 22 seconds into the half and triggered a running clock for the rest of the game.
“It was really tough for our kids to recover,” said Eldon head coach Shannon Jolley. “It definitely had an impact on us early. They (the Cubs) are tenacious on defense and pursue extremely well. They have great athleticism and their pursuit angles are excellent.”
Eldon rushed for 66 yards on 31 carries. Greenwalt, a junior, completed 7 of 20 passes for 38 yards. Eldon had three first downs in the second half and finished with nine first downs, including two on Monett penalties.
“They (the Mustangs) fought the whole way through,” Bounous said. “We executed better than they did and they couldn’t do anything about it because our defense shut them down.”
Monett rushed for 360 yards on 40 carries, including 250 yards on 27 attempts in the first half. Cubs head coach Chad Depee began to remove his starters in the third quarter.
“Trying to grab the momentum as quickly as we can was important,” Depee said. “Eldon in its last two games had big plays early and just snowballed with it.
“I wasn’t expecting to hit some big ones there. By the time we hit the second one, momentum was in our favor and our defense could play aggressively.”