WINDER — Monroe Area’s prolific offense, led by quarterback Stanton Pruitt, rolled into W. Clair Harris Stadium in Winder on Friday night a week after scoring 35 first-half points against Loganville. But in the first half against Winder-Barrow, the Purple Hurricanes found the Bulldoggs’ defense far less accommodating.
The visitors managed to pull away in the second half, finishing off the Bulldoggs by a final of 40-14.
Despite trailing only 14-0 at halftime, Winder-Barrow head coach David Wagner wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance.
“I felt good where we were at as far as score of the game”, said Wagner, “but I didn’t feel so good considering we had turned the ball over, missed some opportunities and I felt like we could have had the game tied at halftime.”
For Winder-Barrow (1-1, 0-0 Region 8AAAAA) turnovers would prove even more critical in the second half.
Monroe Area’s (2-0, O-0 Region 8AAAA) offense was clicking early. On its first possession, Truitt connected with a diving Demek Kemp in the end zone on 4th-and-11 for a 23-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. On the Hurricanes’ next drive, Truitt, who has verbally committed to Auburn, flashed the skills that made him such a coveted recruit with runs of 27 and 26 yards to set up a 2-yard TD run by Kwan Brooks to extend the lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Doggs’ defense stiffened to shut out the Hurricanes the remainder of the half. Meanwhile, promising Winder-Barrow drives in the half were snuffed out twice by huge losses on bad snaps and twice by interceptions.
“Losing our center Matt Jones last week really hurt us,” said Wagner. “Tyler Junius is doing a great job, but he’s only been playing center for eight days now. He’s going to be good and we have faith in him. But when you lose your starting center there are going to be some glitches like that.”
After Brooks scored his second TD to make the score 21-0 early in the 3rd quarter, Winder-Barrow embarked on a textbook drive, marching 71 yards in 14 plays, capped by a 12-yard TD pass from Hunter Cooper to Chandon Sullivan, that consumed nearly 7 minutes of the third quarter.
“That really is the key against a team like that,” said Wagner. “There is no defense like a good offense. They aren’t touching the ball and you’re limiting their possessions. If you can keep the ball out of their hands that’s critical to staying in the game against teams with these high-octane offenses.”
Brooks, who finished with 113 yards on 20 carries, scored his third and fourth TDs of the night after second-half Winder-Barrow fumbles to extinguish the Bulldoggs’ momentum.
CeCe Green, who led Winder-Barrow with 98 yards on 13 carries, added a 26-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for the Bulldoggs to close the scoring.
MONROE AREA 40, WINDER-BARROW 14
Monroe Area 14 0 13 13 — 40
Winder-Barrow 0 0 7 7 — 14
Monroe Area: Demek Kemp 23 pass from Stanton Truitt (Andy Fielding kick) 7:47
Monroe Area: Kwan Brooks 2 run (Fielding kick) 4:29
Monroe Area: Brooks 5 run (Fielding kick) 10:30
Winder-Barrow: Chandon Sullivan 12 pass from Hunter Cooper (Colin Shannon kick) 3:33
Monroe Area: Brooks 25 run (kick failed) 1:46
Monroe Area: Michael Gallup 48 pass from Truitt (kick failed) 9:18
Monroe Area: Brooks 4 run (Fielding kick) 6:20
Winder-Barrow: CeCe Green 26 run (Shannon kick) 3:34