By Adrian Johnson
Much like last year, the game between the Snohomish Panthers and Monroe Bearcats came down to the last minute, and the victory would hinge on who had control of the ball in the waning seconds.
Monroe opened the scoring in the first quarter, driving from their 40-yard line and scoring on a one-yard dive up the middle by quarterback Mitchell Price. Tanner Ohlsen made the point-after attempt.
Monroe had extended their lead to 9 – 0 when Snohomish, on fourth-and-nine, snapped the ball and it hit the goalpost as they attempted to punt from their own end zone. The second quarter saw a shift in momentum for Snohomish.
“I thought we could have run the ball more on them in the first half, but for the holding calls, and we had a blunder on the punt, they got the fumble and the momentum shifted dramatically,” said Monroe head coach Dick Abrams. “We were methodical on the first drive and should have kept that going. They got a couple of breaks and then a shift of momentum; otherwise, it may have been a different first half.”
Snohomish put together two touchdown drives on Monroe miscues and led at halftime, 15 – 9.
Coming out for the second half, Abrams had to go to his backup quarterback, Hunter Bingham. Late in the second quarter Price told Bingham he was hurt.
“Mitchell said, ‘I think I dislocated my hip and we have to get you in there so you will have to go in for me,’ said Bingham after the game.”I started last year as a sophomore but there is such a big difference a year can make; your body size and mental ability. I did not get a lot of snaps during the week but I was ready for it.”
Bingham began Monroe’s comeback when he hit Gabe Moore for a 26-yard touchdown pass halfway through the third quarter, giving the Bearcats a 16 – 15 lead. Tanner Ohlsen added the point after.
In the next series, Snohomish answered with a Collin Shelton 36-yard field goal. Down 18 – 15, the Bearcat defense stepped up as Monroe’s Peter Kampmann intercepted Snohomish’s Kyle Gionet pass late in the fourth quarter.
After the game Kampmann, who had two picks on the night, said, “I was keying on Russell Crippen most of the time. I went to whatever side he was on; I was expecting long passes and expecting them to throw the ball a lot, so that is what I kept my eyes open for.”
Monroe took advantage of the turnover and answered with a touchdown as Hunter Bingham scored on a quarterback keeper with 5:07 left. The two-point conversion attempt failed and Monroe led, 22 – 18.
With time running out Snohomish made one last drive down the field to the Monroe 34-yard line. On fourth down and one yard to go, with no timeouts remaining and only 53 seconds left on the clock, Snohomish decided to throw for the first down. Monroe’s Gabe Moore intercepted Gionet’s pass and dashed all hopes for a last-second Snohomish win.
The win put Monroe in the driver’s seat atop the WESCO 4A North Division as Arlington lost to Lake Stevens.
Abrams said after the game, “Hunter Bingham did a great job leading us like he did last year coming in, so I could not be more proud of him, and hopefully Mitchell Price will be back soon. I told them at halftime we had to suck it up and hang in there. It was a great win for our guys to hang in there, a nice win; it is always nice to win here, and I think it is four in a row against Snohomish, as they always play us tough. We got Arlington next week, so it is going to be a real tough one at our place and we get to play at home for a few weeks, so that is going to be nice.”