ALBANY — No matter how sloppily the game between Albany High and Monroe was played Saturday night, when it gets into the Region 1-AAAA schedule, a win can come in all varieties.
Monroe scored its first region victory of the season, taking an ugly 20-6 victory over the Indians at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Both teams had costly turnovers and penalties, but Monroe coach Charles Truitt won’t be complaining with the victory. He did complain about his team’s performance.
“Offensively, we’re pretty ugly right now,” Truitt said. “But we’ll take this win, then we’ll come back and work on our mistakes next week.”
The Tornadoes (2-3, 1-1 Region 1-AAAA) used two touchdown runs from Devontay Stephens — a 5-yard run in the second quarter and a 27-yard gallop early in the fourth quarter.
With the exception of Albany’s Malik Dungee’s 45-yard touchdown pass from Malik Mathis with 7:03 left, Monroe rode a solid effort from its defense.
Ironically, it was Stephens who thwarted Albany’s last chance for a comeback. With 4:07 left, Stephens stepped in front of Mathis’ pass and recorded an interception, setting up a 16-yard scamper two plays later from reigning Herald Player of the Year and Dynamite Dozen QB Charles Stafford.
“Once I played the slant, I was in perfect position for the ball,” Stephens said. “I just wanted to help out on both sides of the ball.”
Monroe held Albany (1-4, 0-2) to just 92 yards in the first half. However, it failed to turn a close game into what could have been a substantial lead. Twice, turnovers killed drives. Then the Tornadoes couldn’t score when they had the ball first-and-goal at the Indian 8 late in the second quarter. They failed to get off a play as time expired.
“It’s disappointing because we left some points out there in the first half that we should have gotten,” Truitt said. “But defensively, our guys played lights out. They certainly stepped up to the occasion.”
No potential points were as costly than when Monroe fumbled the ball in the endzone when they had a first-and-goal at the 2 with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
The Tornadoes also killed a promising drive midway through the second quarter when Albany’s Willie Davis intercepted a Monroe pass near midfield.
With the exception of the one scoring drive, Albany mounted little of an offensive threat.
“Defensively, I couldn’t have asked our guys to play a better game,” Albany coach Felton Williams said. “But we’ve got to block.”