HERMANN, Mo. -- Monroe City used big plays to roll over Hermann in a road game on Friday night.
The Panthers secured a game with the Bearcats on Wednesday night following a scramble to find a week eight opponent after Clarence Cannon Conference rival Clark County cancelled classes and athletic events because of the COVID-19 pandemic last week.
Wasting no time, Monroe City hit big on the second play of the game.
Receiver Logan Buhlig lined up on the far left side of the Monroe City formation on a second-and-3 from the Panthers’ 37-yard line. He spotted a Hermann defensive back playing him too far off the line and wide.
Buhlig got off the line quickly and defensive back came straight at him. So Buhlig did a little juke step, and got past the defender. Quarterback Kyle Hays took a quick look and loaded on perfect strike to his favorite target, hitting Buhlig in-stride.
Just that quickly, Monroe City hit on a 63-yard play to take a 6-0 lead over Hermann before the game was 25 seconds old. The only downside for the Panthers was missing the two-point conversion.
“On the second play of the game, I heard 27 boot-leg pass call, and that is my play, so I had to catch it and I had to make a touchdown," Buhlig said. "I ran as fast as I ever have. The defensive back was coming straight at me and I just took a jab to the right. It was just a perfect pass.”
Monroe City coach David Kirby said his team played great game in the first half.
“They were playing their secondary up and they were trying to play the run,” Kirby said of the Hays-to-Buhlig strike. “We had seen some films where they played other run heavy teams, so we decided to take a shot and it worked out.”
Hermann came back immediately and moved the ball 62 yards on 10 plays to tie the game at 6-6 at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter, missing an extra point wide right after a bad snap.
Then, more fireworks. Hays took a reverse in the ensuring kickoff at the 18-yard line, and running with a wall of outside blocking, returned the kick to the Hermann 14-yard line.
It took Monroe City six plays for Hays to take a quarterback sneak into the middle of the lone for a 1-yard touchdown. With yet another missed conversion, Monroe City led 12-6.
Monroe City held the Bearcats on the next series, thanks in no small part to Hermann self-destructing with a holding penalty and a personal foul after the play was dead to move the ball back 25 yards.
The Panthers took over at their own 42-yard line with 2:05 left in the quarter. Monroe City put together at an 11-play drive, capped off with a Joshua Talton 2-yard touchdown run. Hays connected with Buhlig on a pass for the two-point conversion. Monroe City led 20-6.
On the next series, Hermann grabbed a first down on a fourth-down and inches, before Talton made the play of the game.
Talton lined up wide and shot past a blocker. As Hermann quarterback Parker Anderson turned to pitch the ball to a running back, Talton grabbed it out of midair and raced 45 yards for a Monroe City touchdown. With a successful two-point conversion, Monroe City took a commanding 28-6 lead.
“Coach told to me to get outside the wingback and I did," Talton said. "I jived at the quarterback and tipped the pitchout. Coach put us in the right position. I was surprised I even caught it. I got lucky I guess.”
Monroe City had yet another huge play in the first half. On a fourth-and-9 from the Panthers’ 36-yard line, Buhlig lined up for a punt. The rugby-style kicker took a step to his right to kick, but saw a huge hole, pulled the ball down and ran 41 yards to the Hermann 20-yard line.
From there, it took the Panthers three plays for a Ceaton Pennewell 8-yard touchdown run. With the successful conversion, Monroe City led 36-12 at halftime.
Then came the second half. The Panthers almost allowed Hermann back in the game. The Bearcats scored two touchdowns within two minutes midway through the fourth quarter, narrowing commanding Monroe City lead to 44-32 with 4:23 left.
The Panthers would score near the end of the game to take the 52-32 win.
Kirby said that his team’s letdown in the second half was disappointing.
“That second half, goodness," Kirby said. "They adjusted their defense, and our line missed some key blocks. That it on me because I coach the line. I have to get that group better so we can play a complete game.”
Monroe City (6-2) hosts Highland in the final regular season game on Friday at 7 p.m. in contest that will have significant District seeding ramifications.