For a moment, it appeared Walnut Grove had caught up with Monroe Area in their annual showdown. After losing the first four games, the Warriors won two of three, the only loss coming by a single point.
But since Kevin Reach arrived in 2017, the Hurricanes have reestablished their dominance. On Friday night at The Grove, Monroe rolled 28-14, its fourth straight win over the Warriors.
Any doubt about the outcome was erased by halftime as the Hurricanes compiled a three-touchdown margin.
Hurricanes quarterback Selatian Straughter, who enjoyed his coming-out party last year against the Warriors with three touchdown passes and over 200 yards combined rushing and passing, had another stellar performance. The junior signal caller ran 16 times for 71 yards and completed nine passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
The Hurricanes dominated from the opening kickoff on both sides of the ball in the first half. The offense scored on its first four possessions while the defense held Walnut Grove to just 12 plays and 36 total yards in the first half.
Monroe scored in just seven plays after the opening kickoff on a 42-yard pass from Straughter to Bryant Olson.
The Warriors tied the game 10 seconds later after senior Austin Coleman fielded the ensuing kickoff on the left sideline and raced 80 yards untouched.
Coleman would score again in the fourth quarter on a 49-yard TD pass from Evan Wellborn, providing the lone highlights in the game for the Warriors. He finished with four catches for 80 yards Monroe took the lead for good on its next possession, driving 68 yards in 14 plays, with Straughter keeping the ball on the final six plays culminated by a 1-yard scoring plunge.
The Warriors offense finally got the ball for the first time with three minutes left in the first quarter and gained just four yards before punting.
One play later, Straughter connected with a wide open Alan Jones, who had motioned out of the backfield, for a 29-yard scoring strike.
Walnut Grove picked up its initial first down on a 17-yard completion from Evan Welborn to Kolton Goodbar. But running back Skyler Jones fumbled on the next play and Hurricanes linebacker Tyvonte Brooks recovered at his team’s 46.
From there, the Hurricanes went 54 yards, helped by four devastating Warrior penalties, two after they had stopped Monroe on third down.
Straughter connected with Olson on a 4-yard TD pass to stake the Hurricanes to a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Walnut Grove defense gave the offense a chance in the second half, holding the Hurricanes to just 53 total yards. But the Warriors could only manage the one TD pass despite Wellborn and sophomore reserve quarterback Ashton Adams combining for 163 yards passing.
With the loss, the Warriors fell to 0-2 on the season and extended their losing streak to 15 games. They face another intracounty rival at Social Circle.
Monroe, which evened its record at 1-1, returns home to host Morgan County.