LAFAYETTE -- Colin Hart thought about the inquiry for a moment and reached a genuine conclusion.
Just how big of a momentum swing was sophomore Logan Soole's third-quarter interception?
"The biggest one I've ever been a part of," the Monarch senior linebacker said.
Soole had two second-half picks Friday night at Warrior Stadium, both of them leading to Monarch touchdowns. The first undoubtedly was the game-changer as the fifth-seeded Coyotes roared back to topple No. 12 Falcon 24-14 in the Class 4A playoffs first round.
Soole's first interception came at the most crucial of moments. Already trailing 14-7, Monarch mishandled the second-half kickoff. Falcon was about to take a two-score lead when Soole jumped a route and picked off Falcons quarterback Austin Worbington near the goal line.
He returned it nearly 90 yards to the Falcon 9-yard line, setting up Ethan Marks' tying TD.
"He read it perfect. To be honest, I was speechless when it happened," Hart said. "I was trying to get down there trying to throw a block for him, but of course the kid runs a 4.5. It was awesome."
Monarch took a 17-14 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Jamie Falloon early in the fourth, set up by a 22-yard reception by fullback Braden Pape on 4th-and-4 near midfield (MoHi's lone completion of the night). The Coyotes then put it away after Soole's second interception. The safety picked off Worbington at midfield and returned it to the Falcon 25.
Quarterback Cole Watson sneaked in on 4th-and-1 to give the Coyotes (10-1) a 10-point spread with 2:44 to play.
"We knew we had to get back in it," said Soole, whose initial decision to play baseball only to start the season has been well documented. "If they would have scored again right after halftime, they might have put it away."
Monarch will face No. 4 Vista Ridge next week, but the Coyotes initially are enjoying their hard-fought win over the Falcons (7-4). Falcon was a tough draw at No. 12, having endured narrow losses to Ponderosa (3-0) and Vista Ridge (23-21) in the regular season.
The Falcons gashed Monarch from the get-go. Kalen Ballage ran 53 yards on the opening play, and the 212-pound speed-and-power back finished with 128 on 22 carries. Monarch, though, slowed him down after he punched in two touchdowns in the first half.
"The kid is such an athlete, first off," Hart said. "But then we started keying on him with our two inside linebackers. Me and Petey (Mitchell) would follow him wherever he went, and that worked out very well."
Added Coyotes coach Phil Bravo: "He's a big kid, around 6-foot-3 and 215 and he ran a 10.9 in the 100 meters last season. How do you simulate that in practice? You don't."
Monarch's own star back, Marks, kept the Coyotes in contention in the first half with a 70-yard touchdown run. He finished with 155 yards on 28 carries, although Monarch was held to 196 yards overall and seven first downs.
Thankfully for the Coyotes, Soole was in the stadium.
"Our D-line had a lot of good pressure, which made it a lot easier for me," Soole said.
Round 1 wasn't easy as a whole for the Coyotes, but they escaped it.
"When we were down 14-7 at the half, we told our kids that we had worked way too hard to come to this point in our season and not give it the very best shot," Bravo said.
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MONARCH 24, FALCON 14
At Warrior Stadium
Falcon (7-4) 7 7 0 0 -- 14
Monarch (10-1) 7 0 7 10 -- 24
Falcon -- Kalen Ballage 1 run (Justin Barron kick).
Monarch -- Ethan Marks 70 run (Jamie Falloon kick).
Falcon -- Ballage 5 run (Barron kick)..
Monarch -- Marks 5 run (Falloon kick).
Monarch -- Falloon 37 FG.Monarch -- Cole Watson 1 run (Falloon kick).
First downs 13 7
Rushes-yards 37-173 41-174
Passing yards 88 22
Comp-Att-Int 9-20-2 1-2-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-36 2-20
RUSHING -- Falcon: Ballage 22-128, Dixson 5-18, Worbington 5-8, Cutkomp 4-11, Hicks 1-9; Monarch: Marks 28-155, Soole 7-13, Pape 3-16, Watson 3-(-10).
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Falcon: Worbington 9-20-2, 88 yards; Monarch: Watson 1-2-0, 22 yards.
RECEIVING -- Falcon: Hall 3-40, Ballage 4-28, Robinson 1-22, Hicks 1-(-2); Monarch: Pape 1-22.