MONROE — With their season on life support, the Bearcats refused defeat. Call it a Monroe miracle.
Mount Si, after gaining its first lead midway through the fourth quarter, simply needed to run the clock out to end the Bearcats’ season, but as Wildcats running back Paine Smith ran for what might have been a game-clinching first down with less than three minutes to play, he was stripped and the ball was recovered by Monroe’s Austin Moyes.
Monroe quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt navigated his offense 77 yards in 1 minute, 50 seconds in a heart-pounding, two-minute drill that was capped with a 10-yard, game-winning run by Isaiah Lewis with 17 seconds remaining.
A Mount Si pass attempt on the game’s final play from the Bearcats’ 15 was batted to the turf, as Monroe stormed the field with an absolute thrilling 44-40 Class 4A Week 10 playoff win over Mount Si on Friday night at Monroe High School.
The result: back-to-back state tournament berths for these cardiac Cats.
Monroe (9-1) will travel to play Puyallup in the first round of the 4A State Tournament next week.
The dramatic win comes a week after the Bearcats suffered a disheartening lopsided loss in a Wesco 4A title game against Lake Stevens. Monroe’s 12 points against the Vikings marked a season low, but the Bearcats found their rhythm against Mount Si.
Lewis churned out 232 yards and two touchdown on 32 carries, and Prewitt threw for 295 yards and touchdowns to Efton Chism III and Isaiah Cole. Ricky Baker chipped in two touchdown runs.
Monroe’s defense yielded a season-high 40 points and struggled defending the Wildcats’ passing attack led by Jonny Barrett, who finished with 12 catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
Despite some of Monroe’s struggles defensively, the Bearcats were in control most of the game.
Skyler Barr set up Monroe’s opening touchdown. The junior defensive back picked off a Millen pass, and Baker scored on a 13-yard touchdown run five plays later to help give the Bearcats an 8-0 lead with 8:55 to play in the fourth quarter.
Chism III then hauled in a 30-yard TD pass from Prewitt to extend the Bearcats’ lead to 15-0 with 4:15 to go in the first. Chism III made a great catch on a shallow post, broke a tackle at the 8-yard line and sprinted into the end zone.
That’s when Barrett began finding space in the Bearcats’ secondary. The 6-foot-3 junior hauled in a 31-yard pass and a 22-yard touchdown on the following Mount Si drive to trim Monroe’s lead to 15-8 with 2:36 to play in the first.
Minutes later, Mount Si was back in the end zone after Conor Holt picked off an errant Prewitt pass and returned it back to the Monroe 1-yard line. The next play Smith plunged across the goal line to tie the game at 15-15.
The Bearcats’ offense answered, engineering a nine-play, 67-yard touchdown drove capped by a Lewis 4-yard touchdown run that put Monroe in front 23-15 with 9:02 to play in the second quarter.
Prewitt threw his second TD of the first half with 2:25 to play, this time connecting with Cole for a 30-yard score. Cole was streaking down the left side, brought in Prewitt’s pass in perfect stride and got his foot down just inside the near pylon. The TD extended Monroe’s lead to 29-15.
Mount Si rallied again by calling Barrett’s number during a two-minute drill. After a timeout deep in Monroe territory, Jesiah Irish, replacing Millen at QB for his first snap behind center, rolled to his right and threw a dart to Barrett in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard score that reduced the Bearcats’ lead to 29-22 at the break.
The Wildcats drilled a 26-yard field goal after a strip-sack fumble recovery to open the second half to cut the Monroe lead to 29-25, and the Bearcats responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a Baker 2-yard TD run that extended the Bearcats’ lead to 37-25 with 6:12 to play in the third.
Mount Si again refused to go away as Barrett hauled in his third TD pass with a 6-yard reception, trimming the Bearcats’ lead to 37-32 with 3:23 to play in the third. The Wildcats took their first lead of the game with 7:13 to play when Barrett caught his fourth touchdown pass to put Mount Si in front 40-37.
Mount Si had the game all but locked up late when Paine Smith ran for a first down that would have nearly ran out the clock, but a Bearcat defender stripped the ball, and Moyes recovered to give Monroe hope. The fumble recovery set up Monroe’s dramatic game-winning drive.