It wasn’t home or even Homecoming, but Montesano found the confines of Aberdeen’s Stewart Field very friendly.
Elliot Mendenhall rushed for 158 yards and scored five touchdowns as the Bulldogs thumped Forks, 42-7, in an Evergreen 1A League football game Friday night.
This was Monte’s first (and likely only, at least at the varsity level) appearance at Stewart Field since fire destroyed the Rottle Field grandstands 12 days ago. Homecoming, scheduled for last night, was shifted to Oct. 19, when the Bulldogs are hoping to return to Rottle Field to face Rainier.
Montesano coach Terry Jensen acknowledged that there was a bittersweet tinge to this contest.
“It wasn’t a big deal to play here, but it’s not home,” Jensen said. “Aberdeen was great in accommodating us. It’s sort of our home away from home, we’ve played playoff games here, but it’s not the same.”
Jensen said the Bulldogs didn’t play as well in this one as they had in a 49-7 rout of previously unbeaten Woodland last week, but admitted that his ninth-ranked club (1-1, 3-2) is better off today than it was riding a rare two-game losing streak two weeks ago.
“We’ve made progress,” he said. “We’re a little more physical and we’re playing faster and that’s a big key. It seems like when we play fast, we play well and when we play slow, good things don’t seem to happen.”
Operating primarily from a no-huddle offense, the Bulldogs racked up well over 400 yards of total offense and 24 first downs.
Senior quarterback Matthew Jensen rushed for 67 yards and passed for 131 more. Senior running back Tucker Ibabao rushed for 88 yards.
Using the pass early on this occasion to set up the run, the Bulldogs scored on their opening possession and never looked back.
Matthew Jensen completed all five of his passes on a 60-yard drive that opened the pointmaking. After hooking up twice apiece with Ben Ohashi and Shad Rogers, he found a wide-open Mendenhall in the flat on a 5-yard scoring toss with 7:51 remaining in the first quarter. Anthony Louthan, who kicked four conversions later, missed this one to the left.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 15-0 on a bizarre sequence of events midway through the first half.
Jensen’s deep pass was intercepted by James Salazar near the goal line in the final minute of the opening quarter. Although Salazar had plenty of room for his return, the officials (apparently believing he had made the pick in the end zone) inexplicably blew the play dead on the Forks 2-yard line over the protests of the Spartan contingent.
The Spartans barely made it out of their end zone on their first run and weren’t as fortunate on their second attempt, as Jensen led a group of Monte tackles that nailed the ball-carrier for a safety.
The Bulldogs needed only five plays to convert after the ensuing free kick rolled out of bounds. After Jensen contributed runs of 16 and 18 yards on keepers, Ibabao burst through a huge hole on a 9-yard scoring run in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Mendenhall added a 9-yard scoring run and Louthan kicked the PAT later in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 22-0 halftime lead.
The Dogs needed only one scrimmage play in the third period to make it 38-0. Mendenhall bounced outside on a run to the left and motored 66 yards to the end zone.
Mendenhall’s 2-yard TD run with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter implemented the 40-point running clock mercy rule.
Salazar scored Forks’ lone touchdown with 4:04 left on a 31-yard pass from southpaw quarterback Braden Decker. Salazar also kicked the PAT.
Mendenhall also had an exceptional game defensively for the Bulldogs.
Coach Jensen also noted the defensive work of Ohashi and Kenny Roy. Forks (0-2, 2-3) only netted 54 yards of total offense in the first half.
Ohashi also had six receptions for 46 yards.
The Bulldogs will attempt to extend their winning streak to three when they travel to Rochester next Friday.