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SPOTLIGHT
Rough second quarter leads to Monarchs' loss

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Rough second quarter leads to Monarchs' loss

Published on -9/23/2012, 7:21 PM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

After a catastrophic second quarter, the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School football team faced a tall task to come back in its homecoming game Friday against the Ellsworth Bearcats.

Facing a 28-point deficit in the third quarter, the Monarchs rallied and were on the cusp of a heroic comeback, scoring 20 unanswered, but they fell short, losing 50-35 at Lewis Field Stadium.

"I couldn't be happier with the way they responded and came out of the locker room at halftime," TMP first-year coach John Montgomery said. "They left it all out on the field this evening. Unfortunately, at the end, the score wasn't what we would have liked."

TMP now is 1-3 and has dropped its past three games. Ellsworth improved to 3-1 after starting the season with a loss.

"It was pretty tough," Monarch junior wide receiver Ryan Mayorga said. "It made it even harder, because all the fans came out to support us.

"It's our homecoming, and to do this, we should be kind of upset with ourselves but also glad that we came back and made it the game that we did."

The Monarchs had their best passing game of the season after becoming one-dimensional in the second half in an attempt to reduce Ellsworth's lead.

TMP senior quarterback Shane Zimmerman completed 13 of 22 passes for 266 yards -- a career-high -- and two touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions late in the game.

"Shane did exactly what we expected him to do," Montgomery said. "He's a guy that in tough situations he knows how to make plays. He elevates his level of play and sometimes plays outside of his potential. He's an electric player."

Mayorga led the team with 145 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions. Senior wide receiver Kade Megaffin led the team in receptions with six for 89 yards, and he also completed a 40-yard pass to Mayorga on a trick play.

Ellsworth pounded TMP's defense with the run, and 213-pound senior fullback Trevor Miley was a big part of that.

Miley, a former offensive lineman, ran for 268 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.

"(Miley) was just what everyone said he was," Montgomery said. "He runs the ball hard and brings it each play. He runs with a low pad level and keeps his feet moving. He's exactly what you want out of a bruising fullback like that."

TMP started strong, forcing an Ellsworth three-and-out and a fumble on the Bearcats' first two possessions. The Monarchs capitalized on the fumble, as TMP sophomore Nick Schmidt capped a 22-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put TMP up 7-0.

However, when the second quarter came, the game quickly turned into a disaster for the Monarchs.

Everything went Ellsworth's way in that period. The Bearcats recovered an onside kick, landed on a Monarch fumble in TMP's end zone and had a long pass tipped to their receiver off the hands of a TMP defensive back for a last-second touchdown.

By the time the half ended, Ellsworth had scored 36 points in the second quarter, and TMP trailed 36-15.

"We just got outplayed," Mayorga said about the second half. "We didn't do our keys like we should have and went over in practice."

Ellsworth scored on its opening drive of the third quarter, marching 75 yards and scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Zac Martin.

Down 43-15, TMP responded immediately scoring touchdowns on three of their next four possessions, narrowing Ellsworth's lead to just eight points.

Zimmerman was astounding in the third quarter, completing 7 of 8 passes for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He orchestrated a tremendous comeback attempt, as TMP scored on a 73-yard, 82-yard and 36-yard drives.

"Shane's a special player," Montgomery said. "He definitely had one heck of a game this evening."

However, the comeback fell short in the fourth quarter, as TMP's offense floundered and never left its own side of the field.

"When we click and execute the way we're supposed to, we are a pretty potent offense, and when we click and execute the way we're supposed to, we are a pretty tough defense," Montgomery said. "But it can't be a sometimes thing, it's got to be an all-the-time thing."

Riding a three-game losing streak, the Monarchs now must face two of the best teams in the area on the road -- La Crosse (4-0) and Phillipsburg (4-0).

Montgomery said his team simply must focus on getting better at practice.

"I have no doubt in my mind they'll come back and work to get better," he said. "We still have goals for our team that we can accomplish. We can still make it to the playoffs. We can still battle back and have a lot of success this year."

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