Monroe’s Cornelius Jenkins (6) forces Wayne County’s Quin Stovall (3) to fumble on a punt in the first quarter Friday night at Jaycee Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
JESUP — When you see Monroe High School football coach Charles Truitt scowling and pacing the sidelines, you get the feeling he isn’t moaning about the big bass that snapped his fishing line in the middle of the lake.
The coach moved up and down on the visitors’ sidelines, barking at his players after they missed several assignments, dug themselves in a 30-point halftime deficit, and fell 49-34 to Wayne County Friday night in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at Jaycee Stadium.
The loss ends Monroe’s season at 6-5 and keeps it from making the postseason second round for the first time in three years.
The Jackets (9-2) had first half totals that seemed more fitting for the final statistics. Wayne quarterback Malique Jackson tossed five touchdown passes to Krenwick Sanders, none more demoralizing than the 52-yard screen touchdown pass Sanders caught with 25 seconds left. He stiff-armed one potential tackler, turned on the speed and headed for the endzone.
Sanders finished the first half with five catches, all of them touchdowns, and 250 yards receiving to help Wayne roll up 370 yards of total offense by halftime. Sanders finished the game with 279 yards receiving and six touchdowns as the Jackets finished with 439 yards of total offense.
Monroe threw three first-half interceptions and seemed to unravel whenever something positive happened.
The Tornadoes wasted quarterback Charles Stafford’s five touchdown performance. He finished with 294 yards passing on 27-of-47, rushed for four scores and threw another. He added 51 yards rushing.
Truitt was especially unhappy on the first possession of the game when Jackson pumped, then hit Sanders on a 60-yard touchdown pass 16 seconds into the game. It was one of many plays in which Sanders slipped behind the defensive coverage and hauled in a long pass.
“We worked on stopping that in practice this week,” Truitt said. “We knew that play was coming. I was disappointed the way we played in the secondary.
Monroe tried to claw back into the game, scoring on a 4-yard keeper from Stafford. Emmanuel Davis then hauled in the 2-point conversion pass to trim Wayne’s lead to 42-20.
But Sanders hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass in double coverage on the Jackets’ ensuing possession to cool Monroe’s momentum.
“We had the guy covered and I guy he fought the ball away,” Truitt said. “At halftime, we felt like if we could score on our first possession, then make a defensive stop, we felt like we could make a comeback.”
The Tornadoes did make the final score respectable, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns. Stafford scored on a 1-yard run, then fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tedo McGowan.
“The kids didn’t quit,” Truitt said. “We still had a chance to make a game of it in the end. I’m proud of them.”
Wayne took a 14-0 lead on two touchdown passes of 60 and 71 yards respectively from Jackson to Sanders before the Tornadoes used an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive to get on the board. Stafford reversed his footing, then scored on an 11-yard scamper. After the extra point attempt was blocked, the Tornadoes trailed 14-6.
Wayne increased its lead to 21-6 on a 4-yard run from Christian Mackey before Stafford scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal to trim the deficit to 21-12 with 4:00 left in the second quarter.
However, that was before Wayne went wild, scoring three touchdowns on passes of 20, 47 and 52 yards.