By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
MONETT, Mo. —
The Ezekiel Elliott Show was delayed by Monett’s defense, but ultimately the Ohio State-bound running back led John Burroughs to another appearance in the Show-Me Bowl.
The Bombers scored three touchdowns in a five-minute span of the fourth quarter and defeated Monett 28-6 in a MSHSAA Class 3 semfinal Saturday at Burl Fowler Stadium.
John Burroughs (14-0) will face Maryville in the championship game next Friday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Elliott rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries while the Bombers’ defense kept Monett scoreless until the final minute.
“It all starts with the line,” said Elliott, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior. “They’ve been doing their job and making it easy for me.”
The Bombers mixed in short passes and competed 13 of 17 attempts for 88 yards. Meanwhile, the defense limited Monett to 134 yards rushing on 51 carries. Cubs quarterback Kyle Woods completed 5 of 15 passes for 59 yards.
It all added up to the third consecutive trip to the Show-Me Bowl for No. 1-ranked John Burroughs, which was runner-up in each of the past two seasons.
“Our motto all season has been ‘unfinished business,’ ” Elliott said. “We’re ready. We’ve been twice. We’re back to where we want to be.”
John Burroughs, leading 7-0, loosened Monett’s defense in the fourth quarter with three pass completions in a six-play, 58-yard drive capped by a 22-yard run by Elliott with 8 minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
After Bombers defensive lineman Sam Held recovered a fumbled Monett snap at the Cubs’ 20-yard line, two more pass completions led to a 9-yard touchdown run by Elliott and a 21-0 Bombers lead with 6:44 to go.
“Their defense made it tough for us,” said Monett head coach Chad Depee. “They grabbed the field position in the fourth quarter, and you can only give a team like that so many opportunities.”
Monett then lost the ball on downs deep in its own territory, and the Bombers scored on quarterback Nick Duncan’s 10-yard pass to Foye Oluokun on fourth-and-3 with 3:19 left.
“They were every bit as good as we thought,” said Monett linebacker Devon Overall. “We gave it our all. They didn’t maul us. They just beat us.
“He (Elliott) is an athlete. He’s the biggest back we’ve faced all year,” he said. “I wish him the best of luck.”
After the Bombers’ last touchdown, the Cubs drove 80 yards in eight plays and scored on a 9-yard run by Aaron Hall with 42.5 seconds left. Hall rushed for 74 yards on 23 carries and Kurran Blamey gained 57 yards on 12 attempts.
“We’ve never played 14 games before, not even in the years when we won the state championship (in 1971 and ’77) because it was a different format,” Depee said. “I’m awfully proud of our seniors. We’re proud of the legacy they’ve left.”
The Bombers’ defense erased two Monett scoring opportunities in the first half. The Cubs marched to the John Burroughs 25 with a 20-play drive on their first possession, but defensive back Peter Schnuck intercepted a pass on fourth down.
Monett drove to the Bombers’ 26 with five minutes left in the first half but lost the ball on fourth down when Bombers linebacker Tommy Bolstad recovered a fumble.
“If you look at our scores, one of the reasons we score so much is our defense,” said John Burroughs coach Gus Frerotte. “We played a heck of a Monett team — big, physical.”
“They gave us one heck of a battle,” added Bombers defensive end Xavier Bledsoe, a 6-3, 200-pound senior. “Our team took it to heart and executed and got the job done.”
Monett’s defense stopped the Bombers’ opening drive, first with a sack by Reese Bounous on a third-and-9 play, then senior linebacker Matt Murphy partially blocked a rugby-style punt that gave Monett the ball at its own 37.
The Cubs were able to take advantage, however, and Cameron Witt’s 33-yard punt rolled out of bounds at the Bombers’ 6-yard line.
Elliott quickly moved the ball into Monett territory with runs of 26 and 25 yards, then gave the Bombers a 7-0 lead on a 31-yard touchdown run with 8:08 left in the first half.
“Actually, the play was designed to go in the middle,” Elliott said. “The defense was there, and I just broke it to the outside.”
Bounous ended the Bombers’ opening drive of the second half when he recovered a fumbled snap at the Monett 49, but the Cubs gained only one first down before they were forced to punt.
John Burroughs then turned the ball over on downs midway through the third quarter when, on fourth-and-1 from the Monett 49, Elliott took a direct snap and was stopped for no gain by Cubs defensive lineman Aaron Aldrich.
“Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out what the defense is trying to do to us,” Frerotte said. “We need to figure it out before the third quarter.
“What a great job they did,” he said of Monett. “They’re strong. They just play really good fundamental football.”