Monroe coach Johnny Sowell knew his team had talent.
But after watching his Redhawks fight their way to a 45-38 triple-overtime nonconference upset road win against Weddington, he knows they also have a lot of heart.
Weddington, ranked No. 11 in the Observer Sweet 16, dominated early as quarterback Grayson Willingham threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to Joe Bensch to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead. After Keith Duncan kicked a 49-yard field goal, Willingham scored on a 6-yard run that gave Weddinton a 17-0 lead at halftime.
But the Redhawks fought back as quarterback Zeph Wall, who was intercepted twice in the first half, found his rhythm in the third quarter and tossed a 57-yard touchdown pass to JD McManus to cut the lead to 17-7.
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After the Monroe defense throttled the Warriors on the next series, Wall found McManus again for a 94-yard score that cut the lead to three.
Weddington pushed the lead back to 10 late in the third quarter as Christian Sanchez burst up the middle from 71 yards out, but Monroe cut it to 24-21 when Wall found Jalen Nixon for his third touchdown pass. After getting the ball back with less than three minutes in regulation, the Redhawks drove to the Weddington 18 before their drive stalled.
But kicker Brian Diaz made a 35-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The teams each scored touchdowns in the first two overtimes and Monroe took the lead on its first play of the third overtime as running back Braxton Knight swept his way left on a wingback reverse to score from 10 yards out.
Monroe then won the game with its defense as Desmen Robinson intercepted a Willingham pass in the end zone to preserve the win.
Quote: “We knew they had a lot of fight in them. We had confidence that they would do their jobs. I said we needed a big play at the end, and we got it.
Records: Monroe 4-0, 0-0. Weddington 3-1, 0-0
Worth mentioning: Monroe had just 102 yards on the ground, but Wall ended up with 294 yards passing. The Redhawks’ defense gave up 52 yards through the air.
What’s Next: Monroe will host Anson. Weddington travels to Parkwood.