The Monroe City football team was unable to keep up with Macon during the second half of a 26-12 loss at Lankford Field on Friday night.
The clash of Monroe City and Macon, two Clarence Cannon Conference titans, had the feeling of a playoff game Friday night.
Cars were parked up to a half-mile away from Lankford Field. Both major television stations covering Northeast Missouri had their “A” teams present. Three radio stations were broadcasting.
Macon fans jammed on the visitor side of the field as Monroe City fans packed the stands, lined up along the fence and crowded the concession stand area.
The stage was set for a pair of football teams that each came into the game averaging more than 300 yards of offense.
Monroe City’s defense got manhandled in the second half by the explosive Macon offense as the Panthers lost their first game since the 2016 campaign, 26-12, at home.
The Panthers started the game fumbling on their first offensive play after receiving the opening kickoff, giving Macon the ball at the Monroe City 32.
After forcing a fourth-and-7, the Panthers gave up the first of several fourth-down conversions when Macon quarterback Nash Waller threw a strike to move the chains. Three plays later, the Tigers punched the ball across the goal line when a scrambling Waller hit Justin Hayes for a 10-yard touchdown.
With the missed conversion, the defending Class 1 champions found themselves behind 6-0 — not something the Monroe City faithful are used to witnessing.
Monroe City took the ensuing kickoff and began moving solidly downfield as Keenan Batsell was ripping off some hard runs. However, on the ninth play of the drive, Monroe City again fumbled at the Macon 21.
It was the harbinger of a long night for the Panthers.
“We just had trouble with the fundamentals tonight,” said Monroe City coach David Kirby. “You just can’t fumble against a team like Macon. They are too good.”
Monroe City settled down in the second quarter and put together its best offensive drive of the game, moving 11 plays from its 19-yard line. With fourth down on the 9-yard line of Macon, Blake Hays handed the ball to Zach Osborn who raced for a touchdown. With the missed conversion, the score was knotted at 6, where it would be at halftime.
Macon took the second-half kickoff and marched downfield to score a touchdown in only 2:30, taking a 12-6 lead.
Monroe City responded, taking the kickoff from its own 38 to the Macon 9-yard line. Nolan Pennewell ran off tackle to the 1-yard line, and Hays punched it across with a quarterback sneak.
But with the game tied at 12, Macon took control as running back Kevin Edwards scored the final two touchdowns of the night.
The Tigers moved through the normally-stout Monroe City defense. Edwards burned the Panthers for 128 yards.
“I am not going to take anything away from our kids. They played hard. Macon was just the better team tonight,” Kirby said. “I will take ownership as a coach that I did not have them prepared to win, but the kids have to take ownership to execute the plays. We are still a good football team but we have a lot of work to do.”
Monroe City (3-1) hosts West Hancock next Friday.