Carver-Columbus 18 | Monroe Area 14: Canes battle but fall in quarterfinals

By Brendan Koerner | The Walton Tribune

Monroe Area’s Jitt Carr makes a gain in the first half Friday. The sophomore came on strong late in the season for the Canes. Carr finished with 100 yards and 17 carries against the Carver-Columbus Tigers. Brendan Koerner | The Walton Tribune

COLUMBUS — The Monroe Area High School football team traveled down to Odis Spencer Stadium last night to play Carver-Columbus in the GHSA Class AAA state quarterfinals, but we’re unable to find the results they were looking for, falling 18-14.

The Purple Hurricanes (8-5) received the ball to start the game after the Tigers deferred to the second half.

Jitt Carr got the Purple Hurricanes going to start the game as his first three carries moved Monroe Area 35 yards down the field. 

Unfortunately, Purple Hurricanes’ kicker Ricky Valdovinos missed the first opportunity of the game for points as he pushed a 43-yard field goal wide left to end the team’s first offensive drive.

Monroe Area’s defense responded with a quick three-and-out on Carver-Columbus’s first offensive possession the very next drive.

Towards the end of the first quarter, Purple Hurricanes’ quarterback Dylan Hamby fumbled the ball on third-and-long, and a Tigers’ defender picked it up and ran it all 30 yards back for a touchdown.

With no effective extra point taker, Carver-Columbus elected to go for two every time they found the end zone. They were unsuccessful on all attempts throughout the contest.

The Tigers led 6-0 going into the second quarter, but the Purple Hurricanes responded. After a methodical drive, Monroe Area dialed up a double-pass in which Cavaughn Durham found Slade Summers for the team’s first touchdown of the contest.

After being held to multiple short possessions, Carver-Columbus’s offense found some success through the air the next few drives.

The Tigers scored their second touchdown of the evening with 2:27 left before the half, and then again with 35 seconds left before the half, putting them up 18-7 at halftime.

MAHS  wasn’t done yet, however, as they came back in the second half ready for a fight. 

Purple Hurricanes’ senior running back Darrion Manuel found a hole on an outside zone play midway through the third quarter and ran for about 45 yards for the team’s second touchdown of the game. That made the score 18-14.

Monroe Area’s defense followed suit, and held the Tigers out of the end zone after Jay Byrd intercepted a pass near the Purple Hurricanes end zone to keep the contest within striking distance.

As the fourth quarter progressed, both teams struggled to move the ball. Monroe Area made a crucial fourth-and-short stop midway through the quarter to give the ball back to its offense.

The Purple Hurricanes had three drives from that moment forward to try and score, but they were unable to find the end zone on any of them.

With one last chance, Monroe Area got the ball back with 50 seconds left and zero timeouts. Carver-Columbus continued to pressure Hamby, and he was unable to string together enough completions to move the Purple Hurricanes down the field.

Carver-Columbus advances to the state semifinals with the 18-14 win as Monroe Area’s season was cut shorter than they would have hoped.

Manuel rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries Friday night to lead the MAHS ground attack.

De’ante Childs paced the Tigers with 134 yards on 28 carries.

The Cane defense did not allow any points on the final six possessions by Carver-Columbus.

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