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SATURDAY NIGHT PREP FOOTBALL: Americus-Sumter 14, Monroe 6

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Americus-Sumter defensive tackle Pat Fields wanted to make it clear. Those light streams running down from his eyes? Those were watery beads of joy.

Fields and the Panther defense held the vaunted Monroe offense on fourth-and-goal with 30 seconds to play, pulling out an improbable 14-6 win Saturday.

The win over the Tornadoes improves Americus' record to 2-0 in Region 1-AAA.

"I might have shed a little tear," Fields admitted. "It feels good, though. Big win."

Americus-Sumter (3-3, 2-0 Region 1-AAA) had been lifeless on offense, totaling just more than 100 yards before Thomas Haugabook, who ran for 61 yards on the night, ripped off a 49-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 14-6 with 2:06 to play.

Monroe drove to the Americus 10 with less than a minute to play and actually scored on a Terevious Hudson catch, but the play was negated because officials ruled the Tornadoes didn't have enough men on the line of scrimmage.

Monroe head coach Charles Truitt didn't agree, but it was the theme of the night for Monroe (2-3, 0-2 Region 1-AAA). Three times the Tornadoes drove inside the Americus 25 only to be backed out by penalties.

"Granted it shouldn't have come down to that (penalty)," Truitt said. "We drove the ball down the field from (20) to (20). From there in we killed ourselves."

On 4th-and-12 from the 15, Monroe quarterback Devine Noel was blindsided by freshman pass rush specialist Q'Nealus Bell for a sack to seal the Panthers' win.

"(Defensive coordinator) Coach (George) Dean does an outstanding job of identifying young kids that can rush the passer," Americus-Sumter head coach Michael Pollock said of the sack. "It ain't pretty, but we'll take what we can get in Sumter County. We're playing hard. We're fighting hard. The Panther spirit is back."

Americus was outgained 257-158 on the night and trailed 6-0 in the fourth when momentum shifted. Panthers' defensive back Claude Derisio jumped a pass route and picked off Noel, the first of two interceptions for Derisio, and returned it 35 yards to the Monroe 18.

Derisio had been leg-whipped earlier and had a deep leg bruise, but found a way to make the play.

"He's a warrior," Pollock said. "We just keep finding a different hero each week."

Monroe's defense stiffened, holding the Panthers to fourth-and-goal from the six when Haugabook hit Tyran Goober on a slant route for the score. Adam Heath's point after put Americus-Sumter ahead 7-6 with 8:57 to play.

"Their kids played their hearts out," Pollock said of Monroe. "We finally got momentum. When you're a program that's trying to learn how to win, sometimes it takes a turnover."

Noel completed 9-of-28 passes for 151 yards and ran for 73 yards, including a score. Tornadoes' receiver Johntavious Strum caught four passes for 80 yards.

Monroe plays host to Worth County on Friday and will need a win to get up off the floor after losses to Cairo and Americus to open region play.

"I think we're going to be OK," Truitt said. "These are two of the finest teams in the region. We've got to go back to work."