LAFAYETTE — The scoring was so rampant that the scoreboard operator was seemingly getting acclimated for basketball season.
The Monarch football team kept scoring and scoring Friday night — and visiting Vista Ridge added some points too — in a wild Class 4A first-round game that the second-seeded Coyotes ran away with 62-28.
Monarch (9-1) racked up a spellbinding 55 points in the first half at Warrior Stadium and advanced to the quarterfinals, where the Coyotes will play host to No. 7 Loveland (tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday).
“We were electric,” said fullback Braden Pape, who scored three touchdowns as Monarch instituted a running clock for the sixth straight game. “It was incredible for our defense to get those turnovers right off the bat and get those short fields.”
The Monarch defense indeed set the tone early by forcing two turnovers on No. 15 Vista Ridge’s first four plays. The first was a fumble recovered by John Pham, the next an interception by linebacker Peter Mitchell. The Coyotes converted them into short touchdown runs by Ethan Marks and Logan Soole for a quick 14-0 lead.
“No doubt about it, the defense set the tempo for the game,” Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. “Credit them because they made some adjustments, but we got a running clock in the third quarter and our young kids came in and got some good playoff experience.”
While Marks erupted for four touchdowns, the Coyotes also extensively used Pape on up-the-gut runs from the fullback position. The senior went almost untouched on TD runs of 36 and 78 yards and added a hard-fought 8-yarder. Pape finished with 162 yards on 10 carries and Marks added 107 on 17 and a 20-yard touchdown reception from Jay MacIntyre.
“I’ve got to hand it to my linemen. I couldn’t ask for better blocking,” Pape said. “I had to put on a few moves then I was home free.”
Bruce Oliver and Kyle Billingsley added interceptions as Monarch forced five turnovers overall — four in Wolves territory — and converted them all into touchdowns.
Junior defensive lineman Cody Powers, a key piece in last season’s championship run, was beaming about the turnover-inducing performance of his unit.
“I’ve always lived by theory that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships,” Powers said. “It’s always good when both sides of the ball do great.”
Vista Ridge (6-5) hosted Monarch in the quarterfinals last season and nearly came all the way back from a 28-0 deficit, but the Wolves’ deficit was so big this time that there were no opportunities for a comeback — despite how well they moved the ball at times.
Quarterback Elway Tubbs threw three TDs to go with his three picks and running back Jaquan Overbey — who moonlighted some as an option-style quarterback, including on the ill-fated opening series — was dangerous in the open field. But none of that could compensate allowing 55 first-half points.
“We were shocked, because we saw how they played (No. 4) Falcon to a close game,” Bravo said. “When we had 55 at half, I was like ‘wow.'”
The primary concern for Monarch is the health of Soole, who had his knee wrapped and was walking with a crutch on the sidelines in the second half. But the junior says not to worry.
“It’s a mild sprain,” Soole said. “I’ll be ready to go next week.”
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Monarch 62, Vista Ridge 28
At Warrior Stadium
Vista Ridge (6-5) 7 14 0 7 — 28
Monarch (9-1) 28 27 7 0 — 62
Monarch — Ethan Marks 1 run (Patrick Nasiatick).
Monarch — Logan Soole 2 run (Nasiatka kick).
Vista Ridge — Jaquan Overbey 19 pass from Elway Tubbs (Jonathan Koch kick).
Monarch — Braden Pape 36 run (Nasiatka kick).
Monarch — Marks 20 pass from Jay MacIntyre (Nasiatka kick).
Vista Ridge — Austin Mildbrandt 6 pass from Tubbs (Koch kick).
Monarch — Pape 78 run (Nasiatka kick).
Monarch — Marks 34 run (Nasiatka kick).
Monarch — Pape 8 run (Nasiatka kick).
Vista Ridge — Overbey 3 run (Koch kick).
Monarch — Marks 20 run (kick blocked).
Monarch — MacIntyre 21 run (Nasiatka kick).
Vista Ridge — Tyrique Armstrong 15 pass from Tubbs (Koch kick).
RUSHING — Vista Ridge: Overbey 14-51, Saling 2-17, Tubbs 3-13, Stowers 3-9, Sapalicio 1-(minus 21); Monarch: Pape 10-162, Marks 17-107, MacIntyre 6-82, Soole 6-29, Leachman 7-28, Sloan 3-10, Duffy 1-4.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Vista Ridge: Tubbs 18-34-3-198, Overbey 2-3-0-54; Monarch: MacIntyre 2-5-1-23.
RECEIVING — Vista Ridge: Overbey 6-44, Armstrong 5-68, Mildbrandt 5-54, Quinones 2-49, Lopez 1-19, Hernandez-Avila 1-18; Monarch: Marks 1-20, Pape 1-3.