NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Despite being a nascent football program, the Monroe Mustangs and ASA Avengers, two New York City based schools, have formed a spirited rivalry in a very short time. Like many other famous rivalries, there are many memorable moments, and Saturday’s game in New Rochelle, which ASA won 42-22, proved to be no exception to that theory.
Both sides were chipp from the beginning and play was physical early on in the game. The underdog Mustangs sent a message immediately, taking the opening kickoff 11 plays and 71 yards for a touchdown. The second play of the drive, a 2nd-and-5 from their own 34, was a handoff to Devanta Barnfield. The Alabama native gained 16 yards on the rush and got to midfield. The drive seemed to stall there, as Monroe faced a 3rd-and-10 a bit later. Jalen Jones danced around the rush and connected with Elijah Smith for a 13 yard completion and a first down. A pair of Donte Carter runs tallied 25 yards and put the Mustangs on the doorstep of the end zone. Finally, on a 3rd-and-4 from the Avengers six, Jones found Aquil Harrow in the back of the end zone and Monroe had a 6-0 lead.
The spirited play of Monroe continued on the ensuing drive as the defense forced the Avengers to punt on a 3-and-out when Tikere Ralands sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that ASA recovered. Both sides would be forced to punt on their next possessions.
Monroe eventually got the ball on their own 18. Jones connected with Cary Childs on a 17 yard pickup for another Mustangs first down. Eventually the drive stalled and Curtis Pendleton pinned ASA inside the 20 with a 34-yard punt. The ensuing ASA possession resulted in an 85-yard touchdown drive and the Avengers led 7-6 with 12:49 left in the second quarter.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Avengers forced them to kickoff from th 15 yards and a Naji Johnson 13 yard return put the ball on the Monroe 46 to start their fourth possession of the game. The second play of the drive saw Jones connect with Barnfield for a 34-yard reception. The Mustangs had a 1st-and-ten at the ASA 15. Four plays later, Carter scapered through the middle of the pack and scored his first touchdown of the game. An Elio Rodriguez extra point gave Monroe a 13-7 lead with 10:29 in the half.
The kick-start offense had improvised its way to 13 points and the physical play of the defnse had kept the Avengers at bay and the crowd, spirited on by the Mighty Mustangs Marching Band, was making deafing noise to help rattle the ASA offense. The subsequent Avergers drive went nowhere, as they commited a penalty, then the quarterback was sacked by Gerron Pendarvis and they were forced to punt.
The punt pinned Monroe inside their own 20 and Carter fumbled the first play which set up ASA deep in Mustangs territory. They converted a touchdown on the drive and led 14-13 at the half. Despite trailing at the break, Monroe showed their mettle as they outplayed their favored opponents.
The scrappy play of the defense continued into the 3rd quarter, as they forced the Avengers to punt on the opening possession of the half. Monroe punted on their possession and then ASA got the ball back and went 66 yards for a touchdown to make the score 21-13. The Mustangs were still within a score when the third quarter came to an end. During the scoring drive, Monroe was a victim of bad luck as the ball carrier was whistled down on a play where he fumbled and Kamari Jones-Hunter picked up the ball and scampered 84 yards for what seemed like a touchdown. The capricious mood of the crowd went from elation to disappointment after the ball carrier was whistled down.
The fourth quarter began with ASA completing a 15-play, 85 yard scoring drive with a touchdown and extended the lead to 28-13. They scored on their next possession and led 35-13 with 12:02 remaining. Monroe scored on the next possession.
Jones started the drive with a 25 yard rush for a Mustangs first down. Carter capped the 75-yard drive with his second rushing touchdown of the game and Monroe pulled within 35-20 with 10:11 remaining in the game. The Monroe special teams once again pinned ASA deep in their own territory as Jatece Wright tackled the returner at his own ten yardline. Three plays later, Kamari Jones tackled the quarterback in the end zone for a safety. The score was now 35-22.
Following the ASA free quick, Monroe started the drive at midfield. On a 3rd-and-11, Jones completed a pass to Smith for 30 yards to the ASA 21. Three plays later, Jones scrambled for 17 yards, but the drive stalled without producing any points. ASA would score once more to go up 42-22. Any chance for a Monroe comback were thwarted. The officials stopped the game with 1:24 on the clock. Monroe dropped to 1-2 with the loss.
Jones threw for 218 yards and ran for 44 more. Elijah Smith had six catches for 103 yards. Michael Kwegyir-Attah led the defense with 12 tackles. Sidney Gopre had an interception for Monroe. The Monroe College football team returns to action on Saturday, October 3, when they host Globe Tech at 5:30 PM.