The Thomas Worthington High School football team handed the ball to senior running back Eric Monfort 26 times and let his 151 rushing yards carry it to a season-closing 21-20 win at Worthington Kilbourne on Friday, Oct. 28.
"We've had a lot of close games this year and have found a few different ways to lose," said Thomas coach Scott Gordon, whose team finished 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Central Division. "This is the first time we've beaten Kilbourne (in four tries). Our guys were all business. They showed a lot of guts."
At the outset, it appeared as if the evening might belong to the host Wolves, who finished 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the league.
Kilbourne marched 88 yards in 11 plays on its first possession, with the final 32 yards coming on a quick-hitter up the middle by senior running back Danny Shiblaq for a 7-0 lead. The drive took 4 minutes, 40 seconds and featured 10 runs.
Thomas tied the score at 7-all on a 9-yard run by Monfort, but Kilbourne quarterback Brian Miller snuck in from the 1 to give his team a 14-7 lead. After a Thomas punt, Kilbourne junior running back Isaac Lumpkin broke free around the right end and raced 66 yards for another score to put the Wolves ahead 20-7.
Kilbourne dominated the first-half statistics, running for 232 yards on 26 attempts while limiting the Cardinals to 95 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Gordon replaced sophomore quarterback Jalen Wells in the third quarter with sophomore Danny Gordon.
"At first it was just to get Jalen a perspective of the game from the sideline, but then we were moving the ball with Danny and so we kept with that," Gordon said.
Gordon completed all three of his passes in the second half for 25 yards, but it was Monfort who carried the load. His 44-yard run on the Cardinals' first drive of the second half set up his 3-yard touchdown run to trim the lead to 20-14.
Thomas Worthington began its clinching drive with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter. On fourth-and-1 from the Kilbourne 48, Monfort powered for 5 yards and sophomore running back Tony Harvard put Thomas ahead 21-20 with a 1-yard run.
Harvard had set up the touchdown with a 27-yard run to the Kilbourne 3 two plays earlier.
With 10:02 left, Kilbourne took over at its own 8 and drove to the Thomas 36 — twice converting on fourth down — before Miller mishandled a snap and fumbled the ball away to Cardinals senior defensive back Alex Rentz.
Kilbourne got the ball back one more time, but Thomas intercepted Wolves quarterback Matt Poe with under 30 seconds remaining to clinch the victory.
THOMAS 7 0 7 7 -- 21
KILBOURNE 7 13 0 0 -- 20
WK--Shiblaq 32 run (Watson kick)
TW--Monfort 9 run (Shary kick)
WK--Miller 1 run (Watson kick)
WK--Lumpkin 66 run (kick failed)
TW--Monfort 3 run (Shary kick)
TW--Harvard 1 run (Shary kick)