Monroe falls short of 2AA state title again

bkiser@charlotteobserver.comDecember 13, 2013 

— It took Monroe High’s football team 24 years to return to the state finals.

It took Lamar Raynard just a few seconds to end the Redhawks’ hopes of winning their first state championship.

Raynard threw for three touchdowns, including the game winner with 62 seconds remaining, and High Point Andrews stopped Monroe’s last chance for a 18-14 victory in the NCHSAA 2AA final Friday night.

Chase Bryum ran for 131 yards, including a 12-yard TD run that put the Redhawks (13-3) ahead with 6 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But after stopping Monroe on downs to regain possession with less than two minutes left, Raynard engineered a five-play, 56-yard scoring drive that ended with a 38-yard TD pass to a wide-open Carlos Manning.

The Redhawks had one last chance. Aided by a face mask penalty, Monroe drove to the Andrews’ 27-yard line with 15 seconds left. But two pass attempts by Zephaniah Wall fell incomplete, and Devon Underwood ended the game by sacking Wall on the final play.

Raynard finished with 105 yards passing for the Red Raiders (14-1), who wrapped up a 14-game winning streak with their fourth state championship and first since 1991.

Raynard completed just 6 of 13 passing attempts. But three of those went for scores – in addition to the game winner, he threw TD passes of eight yards to Daquan Wade in the second quarter and 28 yards to Justin Lea in the third quarter.

Marquell Cartwright, named the championship game’s most valuable player, added 188 rushing yards for the Red Raiders, with 100 of those coming in the first half as Andrews shook off a sluggish start to trail 8-6 at the half.

Monroe took the early lead on Tre’Shun Wynn’s 4-yard scoring run and a 2-point conversion pass from Wall to Isaiah Thomas with 8:15 left in the first quarter. However, the Redhawks missed out on two other scoring opportunities in the half.

It wasn’t until the closing minutes of the first half that Andrews got its offense going, and gained most of its yardage. A 45-yard Cartwright run set up the Raynard’s scoring pass to Wade with 34 seconds remaining.

But the Red Raiders blew the 2-point conversion, with Cartwright diving on a bad snap, leaving them two points down at the half.

Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs

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