Monroe QB Passes for Three TDs to Lift Falcons Over Zebras
MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ—After having a promising season halted to a COVID-19 situation, the Monroe Falcons returned to action with a rare Monday night football game in the Big Central Conference against New Brunswick. The Zebras, coming off a difficult season a year ago, have played quite competitively with wins over Immaculata and Franklin while only losing to Sayreville (10-7) a week ago.
The Falcons showed signs of improving a year ago with a hard fought win at Perth Amboy, and a close loss to neighborhood rival, Old Bridge at home. Monroe also lost a very high scoring and riveting regional crossover game to West Windsor-Plainsboro to finish the season. In addition, the Monroe freshman football team went undefeated, and won the GMC Red at that level in 2019.
With the likes of Anton and Christian Update, Jagger Agnew, Tyler Scott, and Kyle DeGraw coming back and QB Aidan McLaughlin, who also plays hoops for the Falcons, taking the snaps under center following the graduation of Dylan Gorham, the Falcons looked to even be better in 2020. Following an opening night loss at home to Old Bridge (21-20) where the Knights had to come from behind to win, Monroe had won two straight.
The streak would continue on Monday night. McLaughlin completed 64 percent of his 28 passes on the night for an average of 13.4 yards per completion, and threw for 3 touchdowns as the Falcons jumped out to a 21-0 second quarter lead, and went on to defeat New Brunswick, 28-14 at Hugh P. Walsh Stadium. McLaughlin completed passes to 6 different receivers led by Jagger Agnew, who caught 4 passes for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Christian Updale had a touchdown reception and a touchdown run before leaving the game with an injury after his second score at the 4:12 mark, finished with 3 touches for 44 yards. Scott chipped in with 20 touches for 95 yards, and a rushing touchdown while averaging 4.8 yards per touch. Degraw was a factor on both sides of the football with two receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown on offense coupled with 9 tackles including 3 sacks on defense.
As a team, Monroe’s defense collected 5 sacks on the night along with a forced fumble and a Zach Seppi interception. Jacob Chin connected on all four of his PATs for the Falcons. Meanwhile, the tandem of Amier Alford and Quentin Tibbs had a never say die attitude for the Zebras. Both, especially Alford, played hard until the end. Alford had a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter to set up his TD reception while Tibbs rushed for a score and threw for another.
New Brunswick had several other chances to score including a drive late in the second quarter that was halted just short of the goal line before the half, and two more in the fourth period including one that was fumbled away, and another that was stopped on downs. GMC Gridiron arrived at Walsh Stadium with about 6 minutes to play in the first and Monroe winning 7-0 following Scott’s rushing score earlier.
The Falcons then put together another drive that got deep in New Brunswick territory before McLaughlin and Agnew hooked up for a score, and a 14-0 lead with about three minutes to play in the frame. Neither team would score for nearly 14 minutes before McLaughlin threw to his left, and connected to DeGraw on a short pass over the middle following a fake handoff to the right that put the Falcons up 21-0 advantage with 1:05 to play in the first half.
Trying to battle their way back into the contest, the Zebras put together a solid drive that was capped by a one yard touchdown run by Tibbs at the 2:14 mark of the third to close the gap to 21-6 following the missed extra point. New Brunswick had another opportunity to score early on in the fourth as well, but Monroe forced a fumble and recovered in front of its own sideline inside its 10 yard line.
Monroe then put together a scoring drive that would essentially seal the game. Key play in the Falcon offensive series was a 50 yard pass from McLaughlin to Chris Chaves right down the middle of the field that put Monroe on about the New Brunswick 10 yard line. Several plays later, Update took a handoff from McLaughlin, and ran to his right toward the New Brunswick sideline, and then swept into the end zone for the score with a little over 4 minutes remaining.
The Zebras kept battling though. They took the ensuing kickoff, and drove into Monroe territory before being stopped on downs. Moments later though, NBHS forced a fumble, which Alford hustled past everyone to retrieve it. Several plays later, Alford and the Zebras were rewarded when the senior running back took a screen pass from Tibbs, and raced in for the touchdown. New Brunswick then completed another pass for a two point conversion for a 28-14 Monroe lead with 48 seconds to play.
New Brunswick would force Monroe to punt on its next possession, and got the ball deep in their territory. Alford put together two consecutive runs for big gains before Tibbs threw a long pass to Eli Rodriguez for a completion as time ran out. With the victory, Monroe improved to 3-1 on the season while New Brunswick falls to 2-5. Monroe will be back in action at South Brunswick on Friday night at 6:00 PM while New Brunswick will be hosting East Brunswick one Saturday at 2:00 PM.
Looking at the history of this series, these two schools have played 29 times since 1980 with New Brunswick holding a 19-10 edge. Monroe has won the last two contests including last year’s game, which ended up being a forfeit. Over those 29 games, New Brunswick has outscored Monroe by a margin of 621-370, or an average of 21-13 per contest.