Monroe held Griffin to no points on offense and scored 13 unanswered points in the second half to turn a 20-17 halftime lead into a 33-17 upset win over the No. 5 state-ranked Griffin Bears Friday night in Class AAAA first-round state playoff action at Memorial Stadium.
The No. 2 seed Bears end their season with a 9-2 record while No. 3 seed Monroe advances to the state second round with an 8-3 mark.
“We got whipped around all night and in the second half, their size was too much for us,” Griffin head coach Steve DeVoursney told radio station WKEU after the game. “We’ve got to improve on some things next season.”
The game started on a sour note for the Bears, as the Tornadoes embarked on a 7-play, 78-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead as quarterback Charles Stafford threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Devonntavis Campbell at the 5:32 mark of the first quarter.
Griffin scored 3 minutes later as Monroe shanked a punt and Bears return man Keyston Fuller made an alert play, picking the ball up on the bounce and racing 35 yards untouched into the end zone to tie the game at 7-all. Just 40 seconds later, Griffin took its first lead of the game as Quantico Dodson picked off a Stafford pass and raced 60 yards for a TD for the 14-7 Bears lead with 2:04 left in the first quarter.
Monroe was unfazed, as Stafford atoned for his mistake and scored on a 27-yard TD run to tie the game at 14 with 53 seconds left in the period.
Griffin again took the lead in the second quarter. The Bears successfully completed a fake punt on fourth down to keep a drive alive and then drove deep into Tornadoes territory before settling for a 25-yard Alexis Rivera field goal for the 17-14 Bears lead with 9:29 left until halftime.
It was the last lead Griffin would have Friday. Tornadoes running back Chris Young (16 carries, 73 yards) ran for a 13-yard TD late in the first half. The point-after was blocked and Monroe took a 20-17 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, Stafford threw a 14-yard TD pass to wide receiver Willie Jones for the 27-17 lead and then Tornadoes wideout Emmanuel Davis made a nice diving TD catch in the corner of the end zone for the final score of the game. Richard Wilder of Griffin blocked the point-after attempt for the final 33-17 margin.
Monroe dominated Griffin in the second half. The Bears’ four possessions of the second half were punt, punt, interception and turnover on downs. The Tornadoes outgained the Bears 118-23 in the half and the Bears defense couldn’t get off the field in the half — the Tornadoes made 7 straight third and fourth down conversions to keep drives alive. Monroe outgained Griffin for the game 460 to 138.
Stafford completed 15 of 27 passes for 266 yards with 3 TDs and an interception while also carrying the ball 14 times for 76 yards and the rushing TD. Bears quarterback Jaquez Parks, who was harassed by the Tornadoes defense all night, was 18 of 30 for 88 yards and an interception.
Date Opponent Time
8/31 @ Dutchtown W 42-16
9/7 @ Northgate W 35-6
9/14 Jonesboro* W 34-33
9/21 @ Woodland W 52-20
9/28 Stockbridge L 17-14
10/5 @ Riverdale* W 35-14
10/19 North Clayton* W 42-20
10/26 @ Upson-Lee* W 28-14
11/2 @ Spalding* W 42-0
11/9 E. Landing W 49-6
***** STATE PLAYOFFS *****
11/16 Monroe L 33-17