Monroe upset the previously unbeaten East Surry Cardinals, 28-23, thanks to a second-half comeback and a Redhawk defense that delivered key stops.
It was the Redhawks' second consecutive playoff season in Pilot Mountain. Last year, Monroe lost a heartbreaker, 10-9. But, this year, the Hawks wouldn't be denied.
East Surry came out quickly, putting up 14 points in the game's first six minutes. However, Monroe's Nate Crosby Jr. 2yd touchdown run late in the first quarter cut Surry's lead to seven, and the 14-7 Cardinal lead would hold until halftime.
Monroe would close the gap at the 5:45 mark of the third quarter when Crosby scored his second touchdown on a 31-yard run. The Hawks' extra point attempt was blocked, East Surry still leading 14-13.
Four minutes later, East Surry quarterback Folger Boaz connected with Colby Johnson for a 25-yard pass touchdown pass on fourth-and-11 extending their lead to 21-13 until the end of the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Monroe's senior quarterback, Khamoni Robinson, found senior Reddie Dubose, who made a beautiful catch fighting off the Cardinals' defensive back in the corner of the end zone. Robinson then found Crosby in the end zone for the 2-point conversion to tie the game up at 21.
Monroe would take the lead and score the eventual game-winning touchdown when sophomore running back Zion Lindsey broke a few tackles on his way to a 31-yard score putting the Hawks up 28-21 with 5:26 to play in the game.
East Surry did not back down. Instead, the Cardinals converted twice on fourth down to take the ball down to Monroe's 6-yard line with 1:35 to play.
After surrendering only 21 points to an East Surry team averaging over 43 points per game, the Redhawk defense needed to come up big again in one more crucial series.
Monroe stuffed the Cardinals' first two runs, and an end zone pass fell incomplete. Then, on fourth down, Boaz was flushed out of the pocket, and running to his left, he threw across his body on a full run, but his pass was incomplete.
Defense wins championships, and tonight on the road, in a hostile environment, the Redhawks proved their defensive mettle. No doubt, they will be called on again in this playoff run.
It was a great high school football game.
Next week, Monroe will travel to Lawndale to face the third seed, Burns Bulldogs (12-1), in the 2A west regional semifinals.