Charles Stafford and the Tornadoes' potent offense had an off night at the wrong time Friday as Burke County end Monroe's season with a 28-6 second-round state playoff win.
WAYNESBORO – Monroe bottled up Burke County’s escape-artist quarterback in the first half Friday, slapped on the handcuffs and fitted Donquell "Gator" Green for a straight jacket.
Then Green made Houdini looked like an amateur in the second half, slipping through tacklers while leaving the Tornadoes empty-handed and in his dust during Burke County’s 28-6 win against Monroe in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAA playoffs.
Green ran for 109 yards and a touchdown and threw for 109 yards and a score to knock upset-minded Monroe out of the second round for the second straight season.
“He made some plays at the end,” Monroe head coach Charles Truitt said of Green. “We did a great job in the first half, but we didn’t get a chance to put it all together in the second half.”
Burke (11-1), ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA after winning the state title last season, led just 7-0 at halftime, but Green changed that just 28 seconds into the third quarter. He broke free on a 45-yard scoring run, eclipsing his first-half rushing total in just one run to put the Bears ahead, 13-0, after the point after was missed.
After a high Tornadoes punt snap set Burke up at the Monroe 21 one possession later, Burke looked to put the game away, but a fumble scooped up by Tornadoes’ linebacker Devontay Stephens nearly changed the game. Stephens raced 75 yards for a score the other way, but a block in the back 20 yards behind the play erased the score and Monroe never could take advantage of the Bears’ only turnover.
“The block in the back took the wind out of our sails,” Truitt said.
Monroe (8-4) was stuffed on 4th-and-1 to end that drive at the Burke 27 after turning the ball over on downs twice deep in Bears’ territory in the first half.
While Green gets all the headlines for Burke County, quarterback Antonio Harold did just as much damage on the ground. Harold scored with 3:32 left in the third on a 2-yard run and Green’s two-point conversion run gave the Bears a commanding 21-0 lead. Harold ran 114 yards on 15 carries and scored twice.
“I think Burke County will go a long way in the playoffs,” Truitt said. “We’re striving to have a program like theirs. We’re making strides in that direction.”
The defending state champion Bears held the Tornadoes' potent offense scoreless for nearly all 48 minutes at the Bear Den until Charles Stafford connected with Kemetric Parks' with one second left.
Parks' 37-yard scoring catch was the only positive of the second half for Monroe.The Tornadoes managed just 124 yards of offense in the second half after trailing just 7-0 at halftime.
Stafford finished 17-of-42 passing for 284 yards and one interception. Kevin Williams led Monroe with 127 yards receiving.
Jermaine Baxley hauled in a 21-yard pass from Green for Burke County's final score.
Chris Young led Monroe with 51 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Monroe moved the ball at will in the first half, holding a 222-181 lead in total yardage, but turned the ball over on downs twice in Bears' territory. Stafford threw an incompletion from the Burke 10-yard-line on fourth down in the first quarter to halt a scoring drive.
“We just stopped ourselves in the first half,” Truitt said. “When we got down to the endzone we just didn’t capitalize.”
Burke County answered with a drive of its own but missed a 42-yard field goal.
The Bears would later score the game's first points, using a 12-play drive culminating in Harold's 10-yard touchdown run to give Burke a 7-0 lead with 8:43 left in the first half.
Burke County's Green was held to 43 yards rushing and 44 passing in the first half, bottled up for the most part by Monroe's Green Wall defense. He did break a 65-yard touchdown run in a strange play that came back on a holding call just before halftime, and left three Tornadoes -- Anthony Smith, Cortez Banks and Tim McCray -- injured on the field. All three returned for the second half.
Stafford threw for 159 yards on 7-of-21 passing in the first half and was intercepted by Green in the endzone on a one-handed, leaping grab.
Stafford, a junior who threw for more than 3,000 yards, returns next season, but the Tornadoes lose 12 seniors that were instrumental the last four seasons.
“They’re probably some of the most winning seniors in school history,” Truitt said. “They’ve been to the playoffs three years out of the four years they’ve been here. I just thanked them.
“We’re going to get back in the weight room Monday. We weren’t quite able to jump the hump this year, but we’ve got a good bulk of our offense coming back.”
Burke County moves on to play AAAA No. 1 Sandy Creek in the quarterfinals of the GHSA playoffs.