David Bowen has implemented a smashmouth style of football at Thomas More Prep-Marian, but the first-year Monarchs' coach showed Friday he’s not afraid to deviate from that plan if need be.
“I brought a run offense here and I would like to continue to run the ball and we will still be run heavy,” Bowen said. “But I don’t ever want to be the coach who won’t make adjustments to try and win a game.”
The adjustments Bowen made against Minneapolis paid off, letting junior quarterback Carson Jacobs take some shots down field with the Monarchs trailing 7-0 in the fourth quarter.
All it took was for one of those throws to connect and ignite a spark in the Monarchs’ come-from-behind 14-7 victory on senior and military appreciation night at Lewis Field Stadium.
Jacobs found senior Bryce Hickman for a 33-yard reception that set up senior Kaleb Hagans’ two-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left. Hagans then ran in the two-point conversion to put the Monarchs in front and would later rumble for a 54-yard touchdown with 2:25 remaining to seal it.
The deep pass to Hickman was just one of four pass completions on the night for Monarchs, but it couldn’t have come at a bigger time.
"We kind of drew that up on the sideline," Bowen said. "A little backyard football there. We had a guy we brought in and had him do a certain thing and had Bryce do another, and it worked."
“I saw the defender bite on a fake and I just threw it up there and I trusted (Hickman),” Jacobs said.
And Bowen showed his trust in Jacobs, who took the snaps down the stretch after splitting time with freshman Jace Wentling at quarterback throughout the game.
“We had a little quarterback battle going,” Bowen said. “I found out that was a great way to challenge two guys and have them both respond. I think both of them contributed heavily tonight and Carson Jacobs really stepped up when we needed to.”
After Hagans' touchdown, TMP kept the pressure on by deciding to go for two and punching it in on another run by Hagans.
"There's a lot better coaches than me that always make that decision (to go for two)," Bowen said. "If you're home you go for two, if you're away you tie the game. We're at home and I wanted to get a win so I went for two. I didn't know if that would be our last chance or not. Fortunately, we put another touchdown and that gave us a little cushion."
Minneapolis opened up the game with a methodical scoring drive capped off by a two-yard run from Tyson Villalpando but TMP kept the Lions in check the rest of the way. TMP came up with a key stand late in the third quarter by stopping a run on a fourth-and-two at the Monarchs’ 14, and sealed it with a stop near midfield in the closing moments.
“We went with a five-man front and that seemed to work really well,” said Hagans, who spearheaded the Monarchs’ defensive effort from his linebacker spot.
"I'm really proud of the senior Kaleb Hagans. He put the team on his back tonight, made some great plays on defense and made a huge run to seal the game for us.
TMP (2-5) kept its playoff hopes alive with the win. The Monarchs will be play at Ellsworth next Friday.
“This is a big confidence boost,” Hagans said. “Team morale is going to go up.”
"There's certain games you need to go out and win and we believed this was one of them," Bowen said. "It's a great team win. Great family win. TMP football needed this one."