South Putnam dominated the offensive statistics and played solid defense Friday against Monrovia. Its special teams play, however, was a completely different story.
Matt Hickey had 93- and 97-yard kickoff returns for the Bullodogs, who capitalized on them for a 30-22 victory in a West Central Conference football game on the Eagles' field.
"Those two kickoff returns were huge," South Putnam coach Troy Burgess said.
Hickey took the opening kickoff, broke through a gaping hole in the center of the field and ran untouched to complete the 93 yard score.
Hickey's second return was more damaging, taking away the Eagles' momentum.
South Putnam (2-6, 1-4 WCC) drove 82 yards on 14 plays in the third quarter, scoring on Drew Cash's three-yard with 44 seconds remaining. Jake Gould kicked the extra point to close the Eagles' deficit to 24-14.
Hickey's 97-yard touchdown was identical to the first, breaking into the open and going the distance untouched. South Putnam stopped the Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3 WCC) on a two-point run, but suddenly trailed 30-14.
"We go down and score on a long drive and then turnaround and let them score," Burgess said. "It breaks your back. I think we had some missed assignments (on the kickoff returns), but you've got to give credit to Monrovia for executing it. Our players are flying down there. We'll work on it (kickoff coverage) and we'll get better."
South Putnam had 18 first downs to five for Monrovia and 181 yards in total offense to the Bulldogs' 134. Derek Tomaw gained 91 yards on 21 carries and Cash 90 on 19. Fullback Trent Knight's blocking led the way and he added 14 yards on six carries.
"They ran their tails off," Burgess said. "I thought we blocked very well. We moved the ball."
Monrovia had only one sustained drive, going 67 yards on seven plays for a touchdown on Austin Parks' 13-yard run in the second quarter. South Putnam gave up 30 yards on two penalties on the drive and were called for eight for 104 yards in the game.
Burgess was clearly unhappy on the sideline, but didn't comment specificially on the penalites after the game.
"We played agianst a load of advrsity," he said. "I'm proud of the kids. They played with a lot of heart and lot of couirage. We played hard."
South Putnam also turned the ball over three times, two on interceptions and once on a fumble.
At South Putnam
Mon--Hickey 93 kickoff return (Watson run) at 11:45
SP--Knight 1 run (J. Gould kick) at 6:25
Mon--Parks 13 run (Johnson run) at 4:41
Mon--Parks 25 run (Parks run) at 5:19
SP--Cash 3 run (J. Gould kick) at :44.
Mon--Hickey 97 kickoff return (run failed) at :30
SP--Hernandez 24 pass from Edwards (Edwards run) at :19
Rushing: Mon--Johnson 15-67, Parks 5-47, Hickey 5-14, Standeford 1-4, Hadley 1-2, Connor 4-0, Watson 1-0; SP--Tomaw 21-91, Cash 19-90, Knight 6-14, Zimmerman 1-2, Edwards 12-(-2).
Passing: Mon--Connor 0-2-0 0, Johnson 0-1-1 0; SP--Edwards 6-15-2 86, Toomaw 0-1-0 0.
Receiving: Mon--None; SP--Hernandez 2-39, Nelson 16, Zimmerman 1-19, Gibson 1-12.
Yards rushing: Mon 134, SP 195. Yards passing: Mon 0, SP 86. Total offense: Mon 134, SP 281. First downs: Mon 5, SP 18. Penalties: Mon 8-86, SP 8-104. Fumbles/Lost: Mon 0/0, SP 1/1.
Interceptions: Mon--Hickey, Connor; SP--Nelson.