Monessen beats Jefferson-Morgan, runs win streak to 3

Friday, September 24, 2021 | 11:43 PM

Patience is a virtue.

And for the Monessen football program, first-year coach Wade Brown has preached patience since Day 1.

After dropping their first two games of the season to Washington and Imani Christian, the Greyhounds have pushed through adversity and are now on a three-game winning streak after a 26-0 victory over Jefferson-Morgan on Friday night in Tri-County South action.

“It just takes time for us coaching to develop that comfort level with the kids,” Brown said. “I have seen improvement every week from our team, and they are listening to their coaches. They are also believing in themselves and each other.”

Monessen was outscored 54-15 through the first two weeks, but now is holding a 100-13 scoring edge over the last three games. With the win, Monessen also improves to 12-3 against Jefferson-Morgan since 2003.

“We talked to our team the whole week about how important it was to win the line of scrimmage and be the more physical team,” Brown said. “I thought we stuffed their run and really got them behind the sticks. Our defense has been the real turning point for us these last three weeks.”

The Greyhounds (3-2, 2-0) went three-and-out on its opening drive, but found some rhythm on offense when they grabbed the game’s first score after Lorenzo Gardner capped a seven play, 54-yard drive with a 1-yard keeper.

The possession started with a pair of first-down runs by Anthony Crews, as he collected gains of 21 and 15 yards. Crews finished with a game-high 62 yards on 10 carries.

On their first drive of the second quarter, Monessen took full advantage of great field position after the Rockets (1-4, 1-1) turned the ball over on downs at their 19-yard line. On the next play, Daevon Burke took a fullback dive for a 19-yard score at the 8 minutes, 45 seconds mark.

Burke added a 4-yard touchdown on their next drive, and Gardner tallied a two-point conversion run to go up 20-0 with 6:12 remaining in the second.

J-M gathered 30 yards on their opening drive as quarterback Cole Jones made three first-down completions, but the visitors turned the ball over on downs at the 41-yard line.

On their next four drives, the Rockets were held to negative 36 yards as the Greyhounds’ defensive line was constantly getting in the backfield and applying pressure to all of the J-M backs. Jones, as well as two other quarterbacks, were forced to leave the game because of injury.

Negative yards and injuries derailed any hopes of positive momentum for the Rockets throughout the first half. Colt Fowler did have a solid game on defense for the Rockets with two interceptions.

“We don’t like to make any excuses, but when you are down to your fourth-string quarterback and you basically have no kids on the sidelines, it comes down to safety of your players,” J-M coach Brent Baker said. “We have struggled with being healthy all season. But this group is resilient, and we are trying to build a program. I think we are a better team than the score, but with such low numbers you can only compete with what you have on the field.”

For the safety of the players, the second half was conducted under two eight-minute quarters with a running clock. The lone score of the second half came on a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Monessen’s Dayton Carson at the end of the third quarter.

“Offense always takes a little bit longer to come around, but I see some good things from our offense tonight,” Brown said. “We are running the ball effectively between the tackles and we are also getting some good gains on some toss plays. We just want to have a dynamic offense every week.”

Both teams will be back in Tri-County South action next Friday, as Monessen travels to Mapletown and J-M visits Bentworth.

“These next four weeks we will be tested,” Brown said. “I think we are finally hitting our stride, but we still have a lot to clean up. Mapletown is a run-first team with a good back, so this week we are going to focus on tackling and limit those breakdowns on defense.”

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