After losing its last two games due to strong opening halves from its opponents, the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School football team was looking for a better start Friday night in a return home to Lewis Field Stadium.
It just didn’t happen. But The Monarchs, down 30-7 at one point, fought back in the second half in an eventual 44-35 loss to Cimarron.
“It’s the same story it seems like every week, I don’t understand what ball team is out there in the first quarter,” TMP coach Jason Cauley said. “It just seems like they figure stuff out and they start playing.
“They come out cold, it’s like an old car before it starts going and we can’t be like that,” the coach added. “The season’s not lost for us and that’s the thing. I’m still optimistic.”
Cimarron received the opening kick and proceeded to put together a 7 play, 70-yard drive capped off by a Seth Ridenour touchdown run from 10 yards out of the gate just three minutes in.
TMP was unable to get anything going on its opening drive, only picking up one first down before David McFarland’s pass on third-and-9 was intercepted at the TMP 48.
Cimarron was able to capitalize off of the turnover, driving to the 2-yard line on just 5 plays, where Kansas State commit Jaylen Pickle punched it in for another touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good extending the Bluejay lead to 14-0.
TMP then went three-and-out on its second possession and was forced to punt it away. The Bluejays took over at their own 35 and went on a nine-play, 65-yard drive converting a fourth down along the way to score its third touchdown.
TMP was able to find success on its ensuing possession as McFarland completed passes to Creighton Renz and Luke Ruder, setting up a 39-yard touchdown run from Gavin Schumacher bringing the score to 22-7 with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter.
After the kickoff, the Bluejays set up at their own 20. They drove all the way down into the Monarch red zone, but the defense held and TMP picked up its first defensive stop of the night, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down at its own 16. However, the TMP offense was unable to move the football and was forced to punt it once again.
The defense stepped up in the second quarter for TMP and forced a couple of punts, but the offense was never able to capitalize. TMP drove the ball down into the red zone twice, but threw an interception in the end zone, and had another opportunity from the 1-yard line, but mismanaged the clock as McFarland was unable to throw the ball away before time expired before half.
The second half again started slow, with TMP going three and out, Cimarron turning it over on downs and then a missed Monarch field goal. Cimarron took advantage with another long drive for a touchdown. The Monarchs found themselves down 30-7, but came alive after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cimarron head coach.
On the first play after the penalty, McFarland found Renz for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Then the Bluejays turned it right back over as they lost a fumble. After a defensive holding call that negated an interception, Schumacher took the ball 22 yards for another touchdown and all of a sudden it was a 10-point game, after a failed two-point conversion attempt with less than a minute to play in the third.
Cimarron however answered right back with a touchdown of its own with a long drive that took nearly six minutes of the fourth quarter and included another fourth-down conversion, extending the lead to 38-20 with 6:50 to play.
TMP answered this time in one play when McFarland found Trenton Mayo streaking down the sideline for a 65-yard score.
The Bluejays got the ball back with 6:38 left in the game and milked it all the way down to 53 seconds when they scored their last touchdown. TMP forced a fourth-and-4 in Cimarron territory, but were called offsides, which kept the drive alive.
TMP added one more touchdown with 25 seconds left when McFarland found Ruder down the sideline. Unable to recover the onside kick, Cimarron took a knee to run out the clock.
The Monarchs (1-4) are back at home Friday to face 1-4 Oakley. The Plainsmen lost 62-6 to Smith Center in other action Friday.