Charles Stafford threw three TDs in Monroe's 26-0 win against Terrell County, finishing 13-for-16 for 239 yards.
ALBANY -- Great things happened when Charles Stafford dropped back in the pocket Friday night.
Wonderful, amazing things.
Monroe's sophomore quarterback put on a show against Terrell County in the season opener for both teams, leading the Tornadoes to a 26-0 win at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Stafford was 13-for-16 and threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns, and every time he released the ball, it was right on target. His only three incompletions hit his receivers right in the hands.
"Charles Stafford, I hope to see him on Division I TV one of these days," said Monroe senior Devine Noel, who was one of Stafford's favorite targets with four catches for 37 yards and a score. "He came out talking, changing plays, checking the defense. I knew he was going to have a good game."
Stafford took control of the game as soon as he touched the ball, connecting on his first seven passes and setting up a Noel rushing touchdown on the Tornadoes' first possession. After the game, Stafford said it was one of the best games of his life, only being overshadowed by last year's performance against Northeast Macon where he threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
And guess who the Tornadoes play next week?
"We got them next," Stafford said about Friday's game at Northeast Macon. "I feel like we are going to be good this year. We are going to go 10-0 with a state championship."
That's a big goal, but Friday night was a big first step in the right direction, especially since Terrell County looked like quite the formidable opponent at the beginning of the game. The Greenwave opened up the game with an onside kick, which was recovered by Terrell County's Joe Ward.
"We saw something on film, and thought we could take advantage of it," Terrell County coach William Huff said. "We had to gamble. There was really no reason to hold anything back against a team like that."
But the Greenwave couldn't take advantage of their field position, which turned into an ongoing theme all game. Terrell County kept picking up first downs and taking the ball into Monroe's territory, but the Greenwave just couldn't get that big play.
On the other hand, Monroe was finding those big plays all night.
It started with Stafford's second touchdown of the game -- a 48-yard pass to Terevious Hudson with 8:04 left in the second quarter to give Monroe a 13-0 lead.
The Tornadoes entered halftime with that 13-0 advantage, and Stafford was 7-for-7 with 111 passing yards as he headed to the locker room.
"Charles is a really smart kid, and he throws the ball well," Monroe coach Charles Truitt said. "He does a good job of executing our offense and puts us in good plays. He made some checks (Friday night) that got some guys wide open."
Stafford and the Monroe offense barely even stepped on the field in the third quarter, playing just four downs for six yards.
The Terrell County offense and quarterback Jerkerious Scott, who was 14-for-22 for 125 yards, put together a long drive that ate up much of the third quarter but couldn't find the end zone.
Monroe had little trouble crossing the goal line in the fourth quarter as Stafford hit Noel for a 10-yard touchdown with 7:20 left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Monroe's Tevan Warren recovered a fumble by Ware, which set up an immediate 36-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Hudson, who also kicked the extra point to put the Tornadoes ahead, 26-0.
Terrell County's final drive of the game was the closest it would get to the end zone. Ware, who had 57 receiving yards and seven receptions, made several tough catches that took the Greenwave all the way to the eight yard line.
But Monroe's Jawaski Randle got an interception in the end zone to end the drive and secure the game -- a victory that Monroe desperately needed after losing to Lee County in a scrimmage game last week, 38-7.
"I had a bad taste in my mouth after Lee County last week," Noel said. "38-7, I don't like that. We had a great week of practice and came out playing hard. And we got that victory."
And the way Stafford was throwing the ball and beaming with confidence, there could be many more to come.