CAIRO -- So much for a letdown with Cairo Friday night.
Instead, the Syrupmakers laid the smackdown on the Monroe Tornadoes at West Thomas Stadium.
Highlighted by a 35-point first half, the Syrupmakers stayed unbeaten with a 49-0 rout of the Tornadoes in both teams' Region 1-AAA opener.
"We've felt like we've struggled early in the year at making plays," Cairo (5-0, 1-0) coach Tom Fallaw said. "I think tonight we made all the plays we needed to make. We had some big plays and some big passing plays. Our running game showed up. It was good to see."
Cairo entered the game coming off an emotional 20-13 overtime victory the week before against Thomas County Central. The win only fueled Cairo's first in the first half Friday night. The Syrupmakers scored on five of their seven possessions and held the Tornadoes (3-2, 0-1) to just 37 yards and two first downs.
"These kids right now know what's at stake," Fallaw added. "It was nice being 4-0 but we hadn't done anything in the region yet. We hadn't earned any more home games. These kids know that. They know how important it is to try to get home-field advantage. They had a good week and knew what to expect (Friday night)."
Cairo's rushing attack was too much for Monroe. Led by Laquinton Williams' game-high 121 yards, the Syrupmakers churned out 299 on the ground. Miguel Smiley added 74 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
"It was nothing fancy. They just made plays and made good blocks on (the runs)," Monroe coach Charles Truitt said. "They did a good job. The running backs ran hard. The line blocked well. They've got a good ballclub."
Cairo quarterback Brandon McCrary was very effective, throwing for 44 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, one to Arthur Robinson that covered seven yards and the other to P.J. Davis that netted 24 yards. McCrary also scored the game's first touchdown on a one-yard sneak in the first quarter.
Cairo capitalized on great field position. The Syrupmakers' first-half touchdown possessions started on Monroe's 49, 13, 18 and Cairo's 33 and 40-yard lines.
"Our defense gave us good field position," Fallaw said. "That was key to this game. We got ahead early and it kind of made it easier on us, for sure."
The shutout was the Syrupmakers' fourth in five wins. The Tornadoes came close in the fourth quarter but had two drives end with fumbles at the Syrupmakers' 3 and 6-yard lines.
"Our young kids got in there, and even though they don't play much, they know what's at stake," Fallaw said. "They wanted to keep the shutout alive. It was good to get it."
Cairo could have added another score in the first half but let the clock run out while it had the ball at the Monroe 26-yard line.
The Syrupmakers will enjoy a bye week next week before hosting Dougherty.
Monroe will be at home next Saturday against Americus-Sumter.