By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO Junior quarterback Shane Jackson left Saturday’s Section IX Class A football game against Port Jervis midway through the third quarter hurting with an ankle injury. But he had already hurt the Red Raiders with 258 yards of total offense and four touchdowns to help the Monticello Panthers shut out visiting Port 34-0.
Monticello (4-3, 2-2) will play Cornwall in the Class A semifinals on October 28 at 8 p.m. at Middletown’s Faller Field.
“It’s still throbbing now,” Jackson said of his ankle about 20 minutes after the game. “I don’t think it’s more than a minor sprain.”
Monticello Coach Matt Buddenhagen noted that Jackson was trying to help the team when the injury occurred.
“It was a bad snap and he got up and ran for the two points,” Buddenhagen said. “He’s an athlete and reacts to situations like that trying to score on the conversion. He was trying to make a play because he’s a great kid.
“I don’t think it’s anything major,” Buddenhagen said of Jackson’s injury.
Jackson ran the ball nine times for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 6 of 9 passes for 94 yards and two TDs.
After running for a 78-yard touchdown to give Monticello a 34-0 lead with 6:17 left in the quarter, Jackson lined up as the holder for the extra-point try. When he couldn’t handle the snap cleanly, Jackson jumped up and tried to run for the two-point conversion. He was tackled well short of the goal line by a couple of Raiders.
During the play, Jackson hurt his left ankle and spent the rest of the game on the bench with an ice pack on the ankle.
Monticello took a 7-0 lead with 9:06 remaining in the first quarter. On a second-down play, Jackson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sean Reuss. Angelo Niforatos then made the extra-point kick.
The Panthers extended their lead to 13-0 with 4:33 to go in the second quarter as Jose Cruz ran for a 2-yard TD.
On the third play of the subsequent Port Jervis possession, the ball was fumbled and Jackson recovered it at the Raiders’ 34-yard line.
Seconds later, wide receiver Anthony Gray caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jackson. The Panthers then went for the two-point conversion and Jackson threw a pass to Gray to give the team a 21-0 advantage with 2:51 remaining until halftime.
Monticello extended its lead to 28-0 by taking advantage of another Raiders’ turnover. Linebacker Mistah Alli recovered a fumble to give the Panthers possession at the Port 38.
Five plays later, Jackson ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown. Niforatos added the extra point to give Monticello a commanding 28-0 lead with 1:00 left in the second quarter.
Buddenhagen was pleased to get the win, but knows there is room for improvement.
“We had a little sluggish start, but scored on that first drive,” he said. “Then on the next two drives we faltered a bit. We’ve got to get into a better rhythm.”
Buddenhagen noted that the wet field conditions and strong winds played a factor in the Panthers’ faltering a bit on those drives.
With the semifinal game against Cornwall coming up on Oct. 28, Buddenhagen wants to keep his team focused. Last year, Monticello lost two of its final three regular season games before its Class A semifinal versus Cornwall.
“Our goal is to win three straight [games] going in,” he said. “We need to be playing on all cylinders and playing great football by that time.”
Jackson concurred with his coach.
“We have to stay focused and play good football,” Jackson commented. “We need to play a good game against Goshen next week.”
Jackson also praised his teammates for their blocking during the game.
“The line played very well today,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, we would not have been able to put to put up the scores we did.”
With the loss, Port Jervis fell to 2-4 overall this season and 2-2 in Class A.
“The guys were pretty confident coming off a bye week,” Port Jervis Coach Matt Polanis said. “Their defense played a heck of a game. They gave us a short field at the start of the game and we didn’t capitalize. As soon as we’d get something rolling, we would shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Note: Saturday was Homecoming at Monticello High School and the senior football players and cheerleaders were honored prior to the game. All of the players and cheerleaders and their parents were introduced to the crowd and the players and cheerleaders presented flowers to their parents.
The senior players are: Earl Allen, Connor Alvarez, Jermel Branch, Connor Briggs, Ian Campbell, Jose Cruz, Steve DeMestrio, Anthony Gray, Adam Kaiser, Garrett LaPolt, Brendan Madsen, Joe Mulvey, Sean Reuss, Brendan Thomas and Talon Watson.
The senior cheerleaders are: Kimberly Moulton, Monique Taylor and Tania Walker.
Rushing: Jackson, 9 carries for 164 yards and two TDs; Cruz, 16-45; Rogers, 5-22
Passing: Jackson, 6-9, 94 yards
Receiving: Gray, 4-66; Reuss, 1-22; Briggs, 1-6
Tackles: LaPolt, 8; Smith, 5; McLaughlin, 5; Reuss 2
Sacks: Reuss, 2
Interceptions: Gray, 1; Jackson 1