WESTMINSTER — If Philip Bubernak’s value to the Monarch football team wasn’t apparent enough, it was underscored yet again Thursday night.
But while the senior returned to amass four touchdowns in the Coyotes’ 35-21 road win at Mountain Range, it wasn’t just Bubernak’s hefty performance that had Monarch beaming at 1st Bank Field.
Quarterback Zack Berohn and the passing game broke out, as the junior peppered his tight ends with a number of key gains on rollout plays. Senior Michael McCrudden was the biggest beneficiary, as the big man reeled in three catches for 71 yards and a 19-yard TD in third quarter.
“He looked comfortable,” Monarch coach Phil Bravo said of his emerging quarterback. “He threw the ball with great zip tonight. He’s a work in progress, a bright kid who takes his praises and his criticisms well.”
It was mostly praise for Berohn on Thursday, when he completed his first five passes. He hit McCrudden for gains of 25 and 27 prior to the touchdown.
Keeping in mind Monarch (3-1, 1-1) sometimes exclusively relies on the run, Berohn’s line of 5 for 7 for 90 yards and a touchdown qualified as a significant auxiliary boost for the offense.
While deflecting praise to Berohn, Bubernak and the rest of his teammates, McCrudden admitted it felt good to get into the end zone.
“It was different because it’s my first year at tight end,” he said. “Last year I played tackle and the year before that center. So it was kind of nice to get a touchdown for once and not just be the guy blocking.”
Bubernak is plenty familiar with the end zone, but sat out last week’s 7-2 loss to Poudre for precautionary reasons. While ill with a respiratory ailment, he also demonstrated signs consistent with a mild concussion, so he and the Coyotes played it safe.
After grinding out three short touchdowns in the first half, Bubernak escaped for a 66-yarder in the third quarter and finished with 164 yards on 23 carries. He is approaching 700 yards rushing in the three games he’s played.
“I had a week off, so I got to rest my legs,” Bubernak said. “I just wanted to come out as hard as I could and help the team get a win. Going into Fairview, we need all the momentum we can get.”
The Monarch defense had another solid performance, even though the Coyotes’ streak of allowing exactly seven points ended at three games. Mountain Range (0-4, 0-2) found success in the running game, particularly early when Stephen Bailey capped the Mustangs’ initial drive with an eight-yard TD run.
But Monarch put the lid on the Mustangs until the latter stages, when they added two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes against the Coyotes’ reserves with things long decided.
While Bailey (133 yards) and Elijah Gillespie (131) rolled up the rushing yardage, the Coyotes exhibited bend-not-break tendencies in the second half, when they short-circuited the first three Mountain Range drives by causing three fumbles.
Recoveries by Shawn Kirkman, Gerritt Duffy and Bruce Oliver allowed the Coyotes to stretch their 21-7 halftime lead to 35-7 before the Mustangs tacked on the late scores.
“We had our young kids in and they scored twice late, but honestly I thought our defense was stingy,” Bravo said. “They stripped that ball in there. I was pleased because our defense has played well all year long.”
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Monarch 35, Mountain Range 21
At 1st Bank Field
Monarch (3-1, 1-1) 7 14 14 0 — 35
Mountain Range (0-4, 0-2) 0 7 0 14 — 21
Monarch — Philip Bubernak 5 run (Trevor Elser kick).
Mountain Range — Stephen Bailey 8 run (Kyler McCleland kick). Monarch — Bubernak 3 run (Elser kick). Monarch — Bubernak 5 run (Elser kick).
Monarch — Michael McCrudden 19 pass from Zack Berohn (Elser kick). Monarch — Bubernak 66 run (Elser kick).
Mountain Range — Bailey 5 run (McCleland kick). Mountain Range — Elijah Gillespie 40 pass from Isaac DiTirro (McCleland kick).
RUSHING — Monarch: Bubernak 23-164, Sloan 11-64, Oliver 3-16, Berohn 3-4, Stansbury 2-3, MacIntyre 2-1, Chavez 1-0. Mountain Range: Bailey 27-133, Gillespie 19-131, Robles 1-12, Lukela 3-11.
PASSING — Monarch: Berohn 5-7-0-90, MacIntyre 0-1-0-0. Mountain Range: DiTirro 6-9-0-86
RECEIVING — Monarch: McCrudden 3-71, Sloan 1-10, Webb 1-9. Mountain Range: Gillespie 4-68, Aragon 1-9, Aragon 1-9.