By Julie LaFollette
The Caldwell Redskins traveled to Monroe Central on Friday, returning home with a 36-33 victory.
“For a team that has low numbers, Monroe Central is big,” said Caldwell coach Grant Gaydos. “They’re strong and have a great backfield. Kudos to them.
“We knew we were going to be in a dogfight and unfortunately, we probably made it closer than it could have been,” he continued. “Our kids had every opportunity to let down or put their heads down, but every time they stepped up both offensively and defensively.
Coach Gaydos was also pleased with the play of his younger players.
“We had some guys come in tonight and step it up because of some injuries,” he noted. “It is great to see the younger guys get the job done when needed.”
A short opening kickoff gave the ‘Skins great field position to start the game. Caldwell ran Brandon Piskula on an end around for 16 yards and a couple plays later; Braxton Dudley ran for 19 yards and Marshal Sayre went 17 yards to the two. Sayre then finished the seven-play drive with the two-yard touchdown. The point-after run failed and with 7:57 left in the first quarter, the Redskins led 6-0.
Monroe Central quickly responded, with Auston Hogue taking the kickoff at the 25 and rambling to the Redskins’ 46.
Nine plays later, Alex Kilburn ran the ball into the end zone from nine yards out. The big play of the drive was a 14-yard Kilburn run. Garet Cramer’s extra-point kick was good, and the Seminoles led 7-6 with 3:42 left in the first.
The Seminoles surprised the Redskins with an on-side kick and Kilburn pounced on the ball at the 50.
Eight plays later, QB Malachi Rose-Burton called his number and sped into the end zone from 24 yards out. The ‘Skins blocked the point-after kick and the Seminoles led 13-6 just seconds into the second quarter.
On the next drive, Caldwell kept the ball for almost seven minutes before Dudley threw a 24-yard strike to Skyler VanFossen for the touchdown. Highlights of the 13-play drive were a Dudley pass to Whyatt Parks for 10 yards and a nine-yard Caden Moore run. Dudley ran the ball in for the two-point conversion and the Redskins retook the lead 14-13 with 5:01 left in the half.
Hogue had another big return on the ensuing kickoff, taking it back 24 yards to the 46.
The Seminoles quickly moved down the field thanks to big plays by Rose-Burton – runs of 11 and 21 yards – before he scored on a 23-yard run. The extra-point run by Kilburn was good and the Seminoles led 21-14 with 2:56 left untilhalftime.
The final drive of half featured a Dudley run of 15 yards and a Sayre run of 28. With time running out, the ‘Skins had the ball at the 20, but Dudley was forced to throw the ball away and the Seminoles took the 21-14 lead into the locker room.
At the outset of the second half, Seminoles got a first down on a 19-yard Kilburn run before the Redskins’ defense stepped up and forced a fourth down and three yards at their 30. The ‘Noles went for it and Wehr and Dawlson Moore met Kilburn in the backfield for a five-yard loss.
Caldwell moved quickly down the field with big runs by Caden Moore for 18 yards, Sayre for 13 and Dudley for 13. Caden Moore capped the seven-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. Dudley for the bonus markers and the Redskins took the lead again with 5:51 left in the third, 22-21.
The next Seminole drive stalled and the Redskins took over on downs at the 39-yard line.
It took just one play for Caldwell to score as Dudley sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown. Dudley also ran for the extra two and the ‘Skins led 30-21 with 2:34 left in the third.
Caldwell then tried an onside kickoff and Cale Bender recovered on the Seminole 47.
Rose-Burton then picked off a Dudley pass and sprinted up the field for a 60 yard “pick six”. The kick was no good and Caldwell’s lead was cut to 30-17 with 2:20 left in the round three.
The Redskins again put together a long drive, taking 11 plays to travel 80 yards before Dudley scored another touchdown, punching it in from one yard out. Three big runs by Sayrefor 16, 10 and 18 yards were key to the drive. The point-after pass failed and the Redskins led 36-27 with 8:47 left in the game.
“We had a huge momentum swing with the onside kick and then we gave it right back in an even bigger momentum swing with the ‘pick six,’” said Coach Gaydos. “I’m proud of the way we took a punch and then countered.”
The Seminoles would not give up and put together a 7-play scoring drive of 52 yards, with Kilburn getting his second touchdown on a five-yard run. Kilburn and Rose-Burton each had 14-yard runs in the drive. The extra-point kick hit the upright, but Monroe Central had cut Caldwell’s lead to 36-33 with 5:41 left to play.
The ‘Skins got the ball on the 42 after a Cramer kickoff. They then ran the ball, taking as much time off the clock as they could. The Seminoles were forced to take their timeouts to stop the clock and the Redskins found themselves with a fourth and one at the 16 with two minutes left in the game. Dudley ran for three yards and a first down to clinch the 36-33 victory.
Caldwell (2-2) had 399 total yards, with 362 on the ground and 37 through the air. Dudley was 5-of-7 with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran 21 times for 166 yards and two TDs. Sayre carried 14 time for 128 yards and a touchdown while Caden Moore had 12 carries for 68 yards and a TD. Parks was the leading receiver with two catches for 16 yards and VanFossen had one grab for 24 yards and a TD.
Defensively, the Redskins were led by Dawlson Moore with seven tackles and TJ Wehr with six.
The Seminoles had 298 total yards, with 217 running and 28 passing. Rose-Burton was 6-of-10 passing. Rose-Burton led the ground attack with 16 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns while Kilburn ran 14 times for 85 yards and two TDs.
Caldwell will travel to Sugar Grove to face Berne Union (4-0) on Friday.
Caldwell 6 8 16 6 – 36
Monroe Central 7 14 6 6 – 33
C – Marshal Sayre, 2-yard run (run failed), 7:57.
MC- Alex Kilburn, 9-yard run (Garet Cramer kick), 3:42.
MC – Malachi Rose-Burton, 24-yard run (kick failed), 11:52.
C – Skyler VanFossen, 24-yard pass from Braxton Dudley (Dudley run), 5:01.
MC – Rose-Burton, 23-yard run (Kilburn run), 2:56.
C – Caden Moore, 11-yard run (Dudley run), 5:51.
C – Dudley, 61-yard run (Dudley run), 2:34.
MC- Rose-Burton, 60-yard interception return (kick failed), 2:20.
C – Dudley, 1-yard run (pass failed), 8:47.
MC – Kilburn, 5-yard run (kick failed), 5:41.