Defensive Spark: Six forced turnovers lift Monticello over Orange

Monticello has struggled to find an offensive rhythm essentially since its season opener against William Monroe.


Thursday night against Orange County they found enough of a rhythm and with its defense piling up four interceptions from four different players — six turnovers in total — that was enough for the Mustangs to pick up a 35-14 victory, their first since that opener against the Dragons.


Malachi Fields, Chase Emmert, Trenton Johnson and Will Trent each picked off a pass for the Mustangs, helping cut short several Orange County drives. That gave the offense a lot of opportunities and in the second half they really cashed in on their chances.


Devonta Hargrove rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns including a 60-yard sprint with 8:14 to play that closed the door on any potential Orange comeback.


Monticello led just 7-0 at the break on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Johnson. Johnson tacked on a second touchdown catch midway through the third quarter. Monticello opted for an onsides kick right after Johnson’s second score and Fields capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown run two plays later.


After the next kickoff, Orange coughed the ball up on its first play, giving the Mustangs a short field. Hargrove scored with 5:32 left in the frame. In less than a minute, everything came unraveled for Orange with a 21-point onslaught that blew open that 7-0 advantage and  put Monticello up 28-0.


Orange managed to reel off 14 points of their own after a 71-yard catch and run by Christopher Washington from Walker Johnson and a 33-yard return on a pick six by Nathan Morris. But it wasn’t enough as Hargrove ripped off that long run to re-extend Monticello’s lead to three touchdowns.


Orange’s Jaylen Alexander finished with 140 yards on 28 carries while Johnson went 8-for-22 for 217 yards but threw the four picks. Chris Washington had five of those catches for 134 yards while Jireek Washington had the other three for 83 yards. Washington also had a pick on defense.


The Hornets will wrap the season with a trip to Powhatan Friday night while Monticello will host Charlottesville Thursday night in a game that was shifted up due to UVa hosting Pittsburgh Friday night.