By Kevin Johnson
One big play.
That’s all the Rogers Rams needed to end Monroe’s football season.
LaGrant Pegram returned a third quarter punt 90-yards, and the Rams outlasted the Bearcats, 14-7, in a Class 4A Quad-District playoff game at Monroe High School Friday night.
Despite finishing the season with a 4-6 record overall, the season can be deemed a success thanks to the ‘Cats earning the Wesco North title, and advancing to the postseason for the second straight season, a feat that hadn’t happened in over 20 years.
“The community has always been supportive and these kids believe in this program and the coaches believe in these kids,” said second-year Monroe Head Coach Dick Abrams.
What made the return more frustrating was that Monroe had practiced all week in making sure Pegram didn’t touch the ball.
“We worked all week on punting away from him,” Abrams said.
In addition, to Pegram’s – and Monroe’s – credit he made a great play off a great punt.
Monroe punter Gabe Moore’s kick went to the 15-yard line but it took an odd bounce, allowing Pegram to tip it, pick it up off the ground and sprint toward the end zone.
“He made a great play,” Abrams confirmed, “The defense thought the ball was going into the end zone but he picked up the ball and he took off. It’s tough to tackle a guy with that talent, no matter where you are.”
Pegram almost made it 21-7 in the fourth quarter but Moore made a nice open field tackle, preventing a score.
Thanks to a tough run defense, both Monroe and Rogers struggled moving the ball, and both teams took advantage of turnovers for their first score.
After Monroe fumbled in the second quarter, the Rams used nine plays before Andrew Nelson hit Grayson Midland for an 8-yard touchdown pass.
After a 4-and-out by the ‘Cats, Moore picked off a Nelson pass and eight plays later he was rumbling over the goal line, tying the score at 7-7.
It was all Monroe would muster.
“We didn’t move the ball as good as we could. In the end it was that one play,” Abrams said.