The week prior to their matchup with Monroe, Creswell Head Coach Scott Worsham wanted to impress upon his players the importance of checking Monroe senior running back Brody Ballard’s big playability.
In the first half, the Bulldogs limited Ballard’s production and the Monroe offense as a whole, holding them to only six points.
But after the halftime break, the Dragons were able to play their way back into the game scoring 24 points in the second half to squeeze out a victory 30-29 over Creswell on senior night.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” said Coach Worsham. “I think they are one of the groups that has helped turned this program around. We had some rough years, most of those guys stuck through and we saw improvement each year. You know we’re closer maybe one or two points away from being in the state playoffs so this hurts, but I’m really proud of those guys for their perseverance and sticking with it.”
Creswell came out on fire immediately forcing the Monroe offense to punt and moving the ball quickly on offense. On 3rd and 30, Connor Hanson found his receiver Logan Gordon for a gain of 27 yards down near midfield.
Needing four more yards Hanson was able to draw the defense offsides as he had done so many times this season for a Creswell first down. Hanson later found Jack Nguyen for a gain of 35 yards moving the ball down to the Monroe 15-yard line.
A couple plays later Hanson ran in the first score for Creswell (7-0 Creswell). After forcing Monroe to punt again on their next possession the Creswell offense got the ball back near their own 44-yard-line. Hanson on the first play of offense would start to run right then wait patiently for his blockers to get in front of him then cut back left finding wide open space on his way for a 64-yard score (13-0 Creswell).
Following a dominant first quarter by Creswell, Monroe was finally able to break a big run loose by none other than Brody Ballard.
Ballard ran the first of his four scores with a 61-yard score three minutes into the second quarter. Hanson and the Bulldogs offense had a quick answer as the quarterback connected with Gordon and Jayden Warthen moving the ball down to the Monroe 9-yard-line.
Nguyen was able to tack on another score for Creswell running in a touchdown from 10-yards out before the half as they took a 21-6 lead into the break.
With everything going right for Creswell and the Bulldogs getting the ball to start the second half, Monroe decided to pull an onside kick that was beautifully executed and gave the Dragons the ball to start the third quarter.
Ballard and his teammate Quinton Winsted were able to move the ball near the Creswell 10-yard-line after back-to-back runs.
The Bulldogs’ defense stood tall and didn’t allow the Monroe offense to score after stopping them on fourth down. Creswell was forced to punt on their next offensive possession giving the ball right back to the Monroe offense. This time the Dragons would not be stopped as Ballard got past the Creswell defense for a 44-yard score (21-14 Creswell).
The Creswell offense wasn’t able to get anything going in the third quarter while they were forced to punt again giving the ball back to Monroe.
Winsted and Ballard led the charge again on the ground for the Dragons as they marched the ball down all the way from their own 30-yard-line for another Monroe score. Ballard capped off the 70-yard drive with a 5-yard rush and giving Monroe the lead for the first time (22-21 Monroe).
On the ensuing offense possession for Creswell Hanson only needed one play to respond as he ripped off a 72-yard rushing score to grab the lead back for Creswell (29-22 Creswell).
Monroe continued to use their ground and pound offense effectively as their next drive took off significant time off the clock. Ballard would again get the call near the goal line after leading the Dragons down the field as he would punch in another 5-yard score for Monroe with under six minutes left in the game (30-29 Monroe).
The Monroe defense was able to hold the Creswell offense after they stymied the Bulldogs on fourth down. Creswell’s defense was faced with the task of stopping Monroe one more time with the Bulldog’s post-season hopes on the line. On 3rd and 16 for Monroe Ballard ran for a gain of 13 yards setting up the all-important 4th and 2.
All Creswell faithful we’re on the edge of their seat trying to encourage the Bulldog defense to get one more stop. But quarterback Colton Wellette would convert the fourth down for Monroe, icing the game and giving the Dragons the 30-29 victory.
“It was a good season. I mean, it was a sad loss,” said quarterback Connor Hanson after the game. “We still got a lot of young guys for next year, so I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Although this wasn’t the result the Bulldogs had hoped for, the future still looks very bright for this program moving forward.
“We got a good core of young guys in that sophomore and junior group,” said Worsham. “I think they’re only to get better and this program is only going to get better even next year. We got one of the best players in the league in Connor Hanson. Our two middle linebackers are top notch Juan [Beltran] and Maysen [Scovil]. There’s a lot of names I can throw out there that are going to be great for us that’ll hopefully lead us to the state playoffs next year.”
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