Alex Kinsey knew he had to respond.
With 3:16 to go in the fourth quarter, William Monroe’s offense had the ball and trailing for the first time in the game thanks to a picturesque 42-yard touchdown pass from Elijah Lewis to Nick Messenio.
The ensuing two-point conversion gave Madison (0-5) a 14-13 lead and the crowd new life, but the Dragons had one last breath.
Kinsey took matters into his own hands, engineering a seven-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in the dual-threat quarterback scampering 22 yards down the left sideline for the game-winning score with 44 seconds left, giving Monroe a 20-14 road win and its sixth-straight victory in the border war.
Madison had one final possession, takin over on its own 30, but Lewis was sacked by David Mack on fourth down, sending the Dragons (1-4) as well as the large green-clad contingent that made the short trip into a frenzy.
“As soon as I saw the hole and the adrenaline boost kicked in,” Kinsey said. “My knees hurt a little bit, but it’s not going to stop the game-winner.”
Both teams came in looking for their first victory on the season. The win took on some added importance for Monroe head coach John Rocha, whose team was drubbed 44-6 last week by Broadway. Rocha is a former Dragons standout.
“My state title ring says 13-1,” Rocha said. “That one loss — you guessed it, Madison. It’s a great rivalry and I’m glad I got to stay on the good side of it.”
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, nearly overcame a slow offensive start and two first-half fumbles. After a seven-yard touchdown run from Monroe’s Dupree Rucker opened the scoring late in the first, Lewis found Michael Carpenter in the back right corner of the end zone from. Early the same spot with 8:41 to go in the first half. Madison, however, missed the extra point and Monroe remained in front.
Kinsey scored his first touchdown of the game on a one-yard keeper two minutes before halftime, giving Monroe a 13-6 advantage at the break after the extra point failed. The Dragons forced a Madison turnover on the ensuing drive, but couldn’t punch it in.
Both offenses went stagnant in the third quarter. Madison had the first big play when Jack Bourdon intercepted Kinsey at the Madison 10 to thwart a drive, but a beat up Monroe defense rose to the occasion, forcing three straight Madison punts before Lewis’ bomb to Messenio.
“Elijah’s confidence has improved,” Madison coach Chandler Rhoads said of his star quarterback. “Last year was his first year playing meaningful time at quarterback and I think he really put a lot of hard work in. His leadership with the team has grown, and his ability to set the example for the younger guys has really improved.”
Another long completion set up the Mountaineers’ touchdown, going 37 yards to Jasiah Warren. Warren also had the catch to complete the two-point conversion, giving Madison its momentary advantage.
But that only set the stage for Kinsey’s heroics.
“The look to me, they come to me, and I get it,” Rocha said. “I’ve been there before. I’ve been a player. I knew as soon as Madison scored, I had to be like, ‘let’s go, let’s go.’ Then they see that the coach is responding well.”
Monroe has a bye next week before a matchup with Brentsville, while Madison will travel to meet Rappahannock next Friday.