Monett tailback Aaron Hall scored on a 20-yard run with 45 seconds left to lift Monett to a Big 8 Conference victory over Seneca on Friday, 34-26.

Monett tailback Aaron Hall scored on a 20-yard run with 45 seconds left to lift Monett to a Big 8 Conference victory over Seneca on Friday, 34-26.

A big second half pushed the Cubs into the driver’s seat as they revved past the Indians in a slugfest.

The victory pushed the Cubs to 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big 8 Conference. The Indians fell to 4-4, 3-3 with the district playoffs looming in two weeks.

The Indians jumped ahead 13-0 in the first quarter, but the Cubs would find a way to claw back. The game took a turn when Monett came out of the locker room and scored on its first drive of the second half on a one-yard run by quarterback Kyle Woods to take a 14-13 lead.

The backbreaker for the Indians, however, would come at the start of the fourth quarter. After a 60-yard drive moved the Indians to Monett’s 15-yard line, Cubs defender Kurran Blamey picked off a fourth down pass from Payton Rawlins and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. Woods ran in the two-point conversion to give the Cubs a 22-13 lead.

The teams traded blows throughout the remainder of the fourth quarter. Seneca marched back down the field and Rawlins connected with Chance Smith on a five yard touchdown pass to make it 22-19. The Cubs, however, would respond with a two yard run by Aaron Hall to make it 28-19.

“We never matched their intensity level,” Indians coach Dan Scheible said. “(The Cubs) were really emotionally ready to play the game. We just didn’t do the things you need to do to win football games. We were just not able to keep the lead.”

The Rawlins-to-Smith connection would make another appearance, however — this time on a 37-yard strike to pull the Indians within 28-26 with 2:51 remaining in the game. But the Cubs just wouldn’t go away. After retaining possession, the Cubs marched down the field on their ensuing drive and scored on the 20 yard run by Hall to ice the game.

Mailes got the Indians on the board first when he trotted to pay dirt from six yards out in the first quarter. Rawlins followed suit with a one-yard run to make it 13-0.

Rawlins completed 24-of-44 passes for 305 yards with two touchdowns and the interception. Smith had six catches for 85 yards and two scores.

Marty Mailes rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown while fellow tailback Braxton Graham had 36 on 15 attempts. Graham’s biggest contribution came in the passing game where he led the team with 114 yards on six catches. Jalen Skaggs had 67 on eight grabs.

The Indians had little trouble moving the ball as they amassed 426 yards of total offense, but they lost the turnover battle against an opponent that left them little leeway to do so.

“In 33 years of coaching football I can tell you the turnover battle is the one that you’ve got to win,” Scheible said. “We didn’t win the turnover battle. The pick for six was really big — Blamey had an outstanding game. We also didn’t defend a couple of plays and they just kept getting on us.”

It was a tale of two halves for the Cubs, who finished with 365 total yards. They rushed for 194 total as a team, 154 of which came in the second half alone. They were efficient through the air in the first half as Woods threw for 134 of his 173 total before halftime.
Hall ran for 139 yards.

The loss makes a victory next week even more crucial for the Indians in the district standings. They play host to East Newton.

“Next week is even bigger,” Scheible said. “We’ve got to do all we can to finish in the top four (in districts) to get a home game. We’ve got to regroup and rededicate ourselves and get ready for East Newton. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.”