MONROE — With both teams featuring explosive attacks, Friday night’s Region 8-AAAA showdown between Lanier and Monroe Area promised to feature plenty of offensive fireworks. Both teams certainly delivered on expectations.
Monroe’s dynamic quarterback Stanton Truitt again delivered a virtuoso performance, rushing for 277 yards and five touchdowns as the Purple Hurricanes handed Lanier (4-1, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA) its first loss of the season with a 56-28 victory.
“For our kids to be part of a big game midway through our second varsity season, it was a great learning experience for us,” said Lanier head coach Billy Wells.
Truitt flashed his speed early, racing 33 yards for a touchdown on the first Monroe (5-0, 2-0 Region 8-AAAA) possession for a 7-0 Purple Hurricanes lead with less than 2 minutes elapsed in the first quarter.
On the next two Monroe possessions, Kwan Brooks scored on a 69-yard TD jaunt and Truitt sprinted untouched for 45 yards and his second TD and 21-0 Hurricanes lead before Lanier (4-1, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA) had gained a single first down.
Lanier’s offense then emerged from its slumber, marching 55 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 14-yard TD pass from Canyon Cook to Devin Valentine, to cut the lead to 21-7 with 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
After forcing a Hurricanes punt, Lanier missed a chance to close within a touchdown when the first snap of the ensuing drive sailed over Cook and was recovered by Monroe Area.
Three plays later Truitt scored on a twisting 48-yard run to extend the lead to 28-7.
“I don’t know if there is any one point in the game you can define as a turning point,” said Wells. “Monroe has a very good, explosive team and I’m proud of our kids and their effort.”
While Truitt was lighting up the stat sheet, Lanier’s Valentine was virtually unstoppable himself. His TD receptions of 69 and 50 yards from Cook sandwiched another Truitt TD as the Hurricanes led 35-21 at half.
“Tario Fuller ran real hard with the football in his hands and they were committing to that, which opened them up a little bit in the secondary,” said Wells. “Cook and Valentine connecting was certainly one of the bright spots for us and it was good to see that.”
Valentine, who finished with 161 yards on four receptions, added his fourth TD on a 28-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Fuller led the Longhorns rushing attack with 107 yards on 21 carries, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to counter the explosive Hurricanes attack.
“I’m proud of our kids and the way they fought. For our program, we’re going to find a way to get better,” said Wells.