ARLINGTON — The hype surrounding Friday night’s game between Arlington and Monroe centered on the head coaches of the two teams, Dick Abrams of Monroe and his son-in-law, Greg Dailer, head coach of the Eagles.
After kickoff, the relationship between the two coaches didn’t matter. The game became about the players on the field. In the end, it was the Bearcats who outlasted the Eagles 19-14, after rallying to score a touchdown with just over a minute to play in the game.
“It was a tough battle,” Abrams said. “They’re battling injuries and we’re battling injuries. It was a great high school game, though, how both teams hung in there. I thought it was really exciting for both sides.”
With the win, the Bearcats moved to 2-1 in conference play and set up a showdown with Mount Vernon (2-1) next Friday. The winner of that game clinches at least a tie for the Wesco 4A North championship.
“It’s a big game with Mount Vernon, that’s for sure,” Abrams said. “It helps us a lot as far as possible playoffs so I think it helps our confidence. We have to play at Mount Vernon, but I think our kids will be up for it.”
This was the final league game for the Eagles, who finished 2-2. Arlington has to wait until the conclusion of next week’s games to find out its postseason fate.
Trailing by four, the Eagles had a chance to win the game in the final seconds until Monroe’s Gabe Moore intercepted Cam Scrimgeour in the end zone with 30 seconds to play to seal the victory for the Bearcats.
Monroe fell behind early, giving up a safety in the first quarter and a field goal early in the second quarter to fall behind 5-0.
The Eagles added to their lead later in the quarter with what proved to be the game’s longest play, an 80-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jared Alskog. Arlington went for two points and failed, settling for a 12-0 lead.
The way the Monroe offense had been going, it looked like it would be more than enough. But when the Bearcats needed points the most they were able to answer. In danger of falling too far behind, Monroe responded with a bang, going 65 yards in four plays. The drive was capped by an 8-yard touchdown run by Moore.
As difficult as it was for Monroe to move the ball, the offense persisted with the game plan.
“We had to stay within our game,” Abrams said. “I think that’s keeping our offense on the field as much as possible, but also running the clock. Our defense did great. I thought they did a really good job against an explosive offense.”
The two teams traded possessions throughout the third quarter with neither team threatening until Arlington fumbled deep in its own territory early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Monroe quarterback Andrew Zimmerman found Chase DiMonda for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Bearcats their first lead of the game. Monroe’s two-point attempt failed and the Bearcats held the slimmest of leads at 13-12.
The advantage didn’t last long, Arlington drove to the Bearcats’ 9-yard line where the drive stalled, but Anthony Parra’s 26-yard field goal with 5:18 to play gave Arlington the lead again.
Monroe looked to be in trouble on the ensuing possession. Facing a fourth-and-8 with less than four minutes to play, Abrams elected to send his offense back on the field and the gamble paid off. Zimmerman found Shanden Mixayphone for a gain of 38 yards to give the Bearcats life. Two plays later, Zimmerman connected with Robbie Schab for a gain of 29 yards setting up first-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
“I knew that we had five minutes and that’s plenty of time to go down the field and score,” Zimmerman said. “When you have to pass, you just can’t make mistakes and that’s what I did.”
Zimmerman didn’t throw the ball much, but proved to be effective late. He finished the game 4-for-8 for 95 yards and a touchdown. Three of those completions came in the final quarter.
“He really came through,” Abrams said. “We knew we could throw the ball, but we had to make some throws there at the end and he definitely came through on them.”
With the clock ticking down and the Bearcats needing to score only a field goal to take the lead, Abrams had Zimmerman fall on the ball on consecutive plays, running over a minute off the game clock.
“We wanted to take some time off while we were down there,” Abrams said. “(We got) a great catch by Robbie Schab, so that helped us. The kids really hung in there and we wanted to run the clock a little bit, so Andrew took a knee there a couple of times.”
On third down, Zimmerman scored on a 1-yard sneak to give the Bearcats a 19-15 lead, which is how the game ended.
The season hasn’t been pretty for the Bearcats, but they find themselves in the hunt for a second consecutive Wesco North championship going into the final week of the season.
“Our team has never given up,” Zimmerman said. “We haven’t given up on the season so we just have to keep rolling. This game just gives us more motivation for Mount Vernon.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Arlington H.S.
Monroe 0 7 0 12 – 19
Arlington 2 10 0 3 – 15
A–Safety (Monroe punter tackled in end zone)
A–Anthony Parra 38 FG
A–Jared Alskog 80 run (Parra kick)
M–Gabe Moore 9 run (Tanner Ohlsen kick)
M–Chase DiMonda 7 pass from Andrew Zimmerman (pass failed)
A–Parra 26 FG
M–Zimmerman 1 run (run failed)
Records–Monroe 2-1 league, 3-4 overall; Arlington 2-2, 3-4.