ALBANY -- It was a tale of two halves and two offenses Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Monroe's Devine Noel hit Dominique Reid with 83-yard touchdown pass on the game's first possession to give the Tornadoes a 6-0 lead against Worth County, but the Rams answered with a 1-yard TD run by Jhue Rhodes on its next possession to take a 7-6 lead it never relinquished thanks to a big night from RB Ellis Anderson as the Rams improved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Region 1-AAA play with a 21-18 win over Monroe.
Monroe, which remained winless in region play at 0-3, suffered its fourth straight loss in falling to 3-4 overall, despite outgaining the visiting Rams 261 to 255 yards in total offense. The Tornadoes' ground game, however, was non-existent, struggling to minus-17 yards, forcing Monroe to rely on the passing of Noel, who was 12 of 27 for 278 yards and a two touchdowns.
"We did what we had to do to win the game," Worth Coach Scotty Ward said. "Coming into the game, we thought that No. 7 (Noel) was their best rusher. We shut down their run, but gave up too many big plays in the passing game. Plus we didn't tackle very well at all.
"I thought our defense played well overall and we played hard and found a way to win. But we'll take being 2-1 in region play anyway we can."
The loss was a bitter pill for Monroe coach Charles Truitt to swallow.
"We didn't a very good second half of football," a clearly frustrated Truitt said. "In the second half (Worth) made adjustments and we didn't. We've got to learn to play four quarters of football because right now we aren't and it's killing us."
Worth County padded its lead to 14-6 with when Anderson, who finished with 92 yards on 20 carries and a pair of touchdowns, crashed into the end zone from eight yards out with 1:29 left in the half.
The Tornaodoes, however came right back after the kickoff. Noel hit Jontavious Strum with a 39-yard pass to the Worth 11 and three plays later Noel scored from a yard out to cut the Rams' lead to 14-12 at the half.
Worth pushed the lead to 21-12 with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter when Anderson peeled off a 10-yard scoring run.
Monroe notched three straight three and outs before mounting a 79-yard scoring drive as time wound down in the fourth quarter.
But it was too late.
The Tornadoes will entertain Crisp County next Friday while Worth welcomes unbeaten Cairo into Sylvester.