Albemarle turned three Monticello turnovers into 16 points and used a 27-0 third quarter to spoil the Mustangs’ homecoming night and pick up its first win of the season in a 36-0 triumph.
“Our defense played great ball tonight,” said Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah. “We haven’t really had a lot of turnovers. Once they started making those happen, that gave us more opportunities, and then you just could see guys [on offense] start to make plays.”
Much of the first half featured a ground battle with both offenses led by run-inclined quarterbacks. Things changed late in the second quarter after the Patriots forced a punt with 1:35 remaining. After senior quarterback DaQuandre Taylor took off for a 38-yard gain to setup a scoring opportunity, he went to the air.
“I saw a mismatch and I told coach, so we took a shot at it,” said senior receiver Myles Ward, who hauled in a fade along the left side of the endzone from 14 yards out for the game’s first touchdown.
Even though the margin was only 9-0 at halftime, the Patriots’ momentum snowballed over the first two minutes of the third quarter. Monticello received the kickoff, but coughed up the ball during the return to send Albemarle’s offense on the field already in the red zone. Junior running back Mahki Washington scored from 15 yards out on the third play. Monticello’s offense made it on the field next but only took one snap, as sophomore quarterback Malachi Fields lost a fumble after picking up 20 yards on a keeper. Albemarle needed only one snap themselves as Taylor connected with Ward for a 43-yard touchdown.
“I saw one-on-one coverage and thought I could abuse it,” said Ward, who caught four passes on the night for 102 yards.
Suddenly down 22-0 at 10:14 in the third, Monticello’s offense could neither muster a response through the air nor recapture its first quarter ground game success. The Patriots’ front seven swarmed Fields on keepers, and the Mustangs went three-and-out on their next four series. Meanwhile, Taylor and Ward delivered a dagger with their third touchdown connection of the game from 41 yards with 7:45 left in the third.
“I think we have a lot of talent at the skill positions,” said Isaiah. “Obviously, Quandre’s a great player, and we put a lot on his shoulders. It’s just a matter of us settling in and actually executing. Mahki was running hard tonight, the offensive line was confident, and once Myles caught that first fade, he started to get confident. We try to teach them, if you’re hot, we’re going to you, and things just sprouted from there.”
Three minutes later, Albemarle capped the scoring and secured a running clock when Washington ran in from 11 yards.
“We had five turnovers last week, four the week before, and too many tonight,” said Monticello coach Jeff Lloyd. “We’re playing a bunch of young kids, and I hate to keep saying it, but when you graduate what we did a year ago and replace with first-year players, they’re just getting beat up on right now. Hopefully, down the road, they can give some payback.”
Long before the back-to-back third quarter fumbles, Monticello’s first drive of the game was halted in Patriot territory by a fumble. Albemarle took over and drove 56 yards in eight plays to the Mustangs’ 1 before a false start caused Isaiah to send in the field goal team on fourth and goal. Junior kicker Yousof Algburi connected on a 23-yarder to put the Patriots up 3-0 with 4:09 in the first quarter.
Monticello’s only other promising drive came early in the second quarter. Fields and running back Devonta Hargrove traded carries and reached the Albemarle 40 before a personal foul put the offense behind the chains. Monticello would not cross midfield again. The Patriots outgained the Mustangs 449-140, and swamped them in first downs, 22 to 7.
“It was a great start for us, starting with the line who came out and played excellent,” said Taylor, who completed 5-of-8 passes for 146 yards and led the Patriots with 147 yards rushing on 17 attempts. “Myles made plays and so did the other receivers. Mahki Washington played excellent tonight as well. We’ve just got to get ready for Orange and keep pushing.”
After Taylor, Washington also broke the century mark for Albemarle and finished with 107 yards on 16 rushes. Hargrove ended up with 68 yards on 11 carries for Monticello. Fields ran 15 times for 54 yards and completed 3-of-10 passes for 14 yards.
“The thing I’m most disappointed in is the dead ball personal fouls,” Lloyd said, as the Mustangs were flagged 12 times for 91 yards, including multiple unsportsmanlike conduct calls. “I’ve never tolerated that as a coach, and I pull them.”
Monticello (1-4, 0-2) heads to Crozet next Friday for another heated rivalry clash against Western (3-2, 2-1).
Though Albemarle (1-4, 1-1) can be pleased with its most lopsided victory in the teams’ 20-game series, the Patriots left some points on the field as they crossed the Monticello 25 on four other drives but came away empty. Three turnovers and some ill-timed penalties and sacks will give Isaiah and the coaching staff plenty to go over before the showdown with fellow Class 5A member Orange County (2-2, 1-0, vs. Fluvanna on Saturday) next week.