William Monroe football drops home clash with Broadway

In what was deemed a successful Route 33 business trip in the post-game huddle, Broadway earned its first win of the season with a 44-6 triumph over still-winless William Monroe.


“It felt good, real good,” said senior running back Brandon Cruz, who led the way on a big night for the Broadway ground game with 161 yards on 19 carries. “The line was phenomenal. I know we all feel good. This was a great team win for us.”


Monroe, meanwhile, was without the services of a handful of its usual players. Junior Jared Knights started at quarterback before a banged-up elbow forced coach Jon Rocha to turn to sophomore Blaise VanDyke in the third quarter.


“We just went at it with who was on the field tonight and said, ‘here’s your chance, now go for it,’ and they did a good job,” said Rocha. “Several reasons, whether it’s injury or team rules or other infractions, we had a lot of guys out tonight. Not to take anything away from Broadway.”


The Gobblers set the tone with a 99-yard opening drive after Monroe punter William Auer had pinned them at the 1. Cruz accounted for 65 of them on five rushes, capped by a 43-yard touchdown on the 10th play.


“It was a tough situation we were in, but football does that to teams, and I was really happy with how our kids responded,” said Broadway coach Brad Lutz. “We talked about getting over adverse situations and being tough when the game gets tough. To start off being pinned that deep, our kids responded well, and that’s what every coaching staff wants to see.”


For the next four series, the teams traded punts except for one failed punter-option run by Broadway, as Cruz picked up only 15 on a fourth-and-27 from the Gobblers’ own 23. However, despite the excellent field position, the Dragons’ offense went in reverse. That was a recurring theme in the first half as the ground attack posted a net yardage of zero. Punting was a bright spot, though. Auer pinned the Gobblers inside the 10 early in the second quarter, and after a quick three-and-out, the offense finally showed sign of life. Rocha kept the offense out on fourth-and-9, and Knights connected with senior Trenton Fisher for a 37-yard touchdown to tie the game 6-6 midway through the second quarter.


Broadway was able to grab momentum before halftime. Hunter Kaplinger broke a 68-yard run to jump-start a series with just over two minutes remaining, and senior quarterback Nick Lohr scored two plays later on a 7-yard keeper. Lutz then spent his last two timeouts as the Gobblers’ defense forced a three-and-out to get the offense back on the field with 54 seconds on the clock.


“Our kids executed as well as we could have,” Lutz said. “They didn’t try to get it all at one time. Our line protected for the quarterback, our kids ran great routes, and they took care of the football when something wasn’t there.”


With 7.4 seconds still remaining after eight plays, Lohr found sophomore Nate Tinnell for a 16-yard touchdown and an 18-6 halftime lead. It was the first of three touchdowns on the night for Tinnell, including one on defense via a 56-yard pick-six late in the fourth quarter.


Broadway received the third quarter kickoff and, after Bryce Suters took a pitch on the return and dashed 30-plus yards into Dragon territory, the offense capitalized and expanded the lead. Lohr hit Cruz for a 39-yard catch-and-run touchdown just 63 seconds into the period.


As in the first quarter, both defenses settled for a long stretch of punts and failed fourth down conversions. Monroe mounted a 14-play drive that spanned the quarter break, but Broadway blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt to keep the score 24-6. After two more punts, the last a 55-yard cannon from Auer, the Gobblers dialed up some more trickery with Suters. He took a pitch on a reverse and then fired downfield to Tinnell, who made the catch and raced 86 yards for a touchdown.


“We’ve been working on that all week,” said Tinnell, who finished with 121 yards on four catches. “They have a good secondary and we were thinking of ways to throw them off, and it worked.”


Tinnell’s pick-six thwarted Monroe’s next possession to make it 37-6, and then Cruz capped the scoring with a 14-yard run.


Lohr completed 8-of-21 passes on the night for 119 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed six times for 21 yards. The Gobblers tallied 479 yards of total offense to the Dragons’ 101.


Zach Miller led Monroe with 31 yards on 14 carries. Fisher caught four passes for 54 yards.


Monroe (0-4) will try to follow last season’s script and turn things around in a border-rivalry clash at Class 2A Madison County (0-3) next Friday.