On a night filled with offensive turnovers, the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team learned it will need to be more consistent if it is going to rack up more wins this year. The Monarchs learned that lesson from a team that was once a model of consistency as Smith Center shutout TMP, 40-0, on Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.
The Monarchs’ offense turned the ball over four times, and had a bad snap on a punt for a string of turnovers on five consecutive possessions in the second half. The Redmen capitalized on all five scoring opportunities as TMP suffered the homecoming loss.
After breaking a 12-game losing streak last week in Ellis, TMP coach John Montgomery was happy with his team’s focus during the week as they prepared for the fast-paced running attack of Smith Center.
“They came into practice with a great attitude and great intensity,” Montgomery said. ”They believed that if they put in a good week of work that they would have an opportunity to be successful.”
The Monarchs looked as if they were poised to upset the Redmen early in the game. The Monarch defense forced Smith Center to punt on its first possession after tackling Redmen quarterback Thayne Benoits for a loss on third and 18 to start the game.
The TMP defense held strong again on their second opportunity as sophomore Creighton Renz recovered a Smith Center fumble at the Redmen 29-yard line.
“I was pleased with the way we came out. We came out and played downhill,” Montgomery said. “We had to be able to play the game coming downhill hard, filling our gaps and responsibilities.”
Following the fumble recovery, the Monarch offense moved the ball to the Redmen 15-yard line as senior Chase Romme completed a pass to Renz. Romme fumbled on the next play, ending the Monarchs’ best scoring opportunity of the night.
Smith Center, known for consistently running the ball, held true to form against TMP. But as the Monarch defense looked to stop the run, the Redmen hit a 57-yard pass to the TMP 3-yard line. Junior Chase Ryans scored on the next play as Smith Center went up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Smith Center’s uptempo offense started to take a toll on the Monarch defense in the second. The Redmen executed a 16-play, 80-yard drive, for a score halfway through the quarter to go up 14-0.
“We talked about how those defensive snaps are going to take more energy and more out of you than an offensive snap,” Montgomery said. “I think they had 50 offensive snaps in the first half. Smith Center is unique. If it’s fourth and five or shorter, a lot of times they are going to go for it.”
The Monarch defense was able to stop the Redmen offense 4 yards short of a touchdown following a 17-play drive that ended with time expiring in the half.
TMP started the second half with two turnovers. Then, the Monarchs turned the ball over to the Redmen on downs as senior TJ Flax couldn’t handle a high snap on a punt. Smith Center tackled Flax at the 18-yard line setting up their fourth score of the game.
Romme threw two more interceptions in the fourth quarter as the Monarchs tried to mount a comeback. Both turnovers led to short drives for Smith Center as senior Cale Rogers scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
Montgomery felt the poor second half defensive performance was caused by fatigue and the frustrations carrying over from offense to defense.
“We allowed them to have too many offensive plays in the first half. That put our defense in a place where they were playing a little bit behind,” he said. “Defensively, we can’t allow for frustrations from offense to carry over. That is when a team like Smith Center is going to put the gas pedal down.
TMP moved to 1-2 overall and in MCL play with the loss. They will travel to Plainville on Friday as they try to even their season record.
Smith Center improved to 3-0 on the season and in MCL play. The Redmen will play host to unbeaten Norton on Friday.