Henriquez' circus catches stun Louisburg, 21-17
By Gary Axelbank
BRONX, NEW YORK, OCTOBER 9- The Monroe Mustangs picked a perfect afternoon to pull the biggest win of their two-year existence.
On a lovely fall Saturday at SUNY Purchase, during the college's 80th Homecoming celebration, Monroe's Rudolph Henriquez (Irvington, NJ) hauled in three touchdown passes, including two spectacular grabs, to defeat #17-ranked Louisburg (NC) 21-17 for the Mustangs first-ever NEFC win. The Hurricanes came into the game with a 5-0 record. Monroe is now 2-3 on the season.
"This is our biggest win," said a smiling head coach Terry Karg after the game, "and we did it against a quality team. All that work and all that time and all the commitment during the bye week (last week) paid off. We worked hard every day to get this."
Monroe was buoyed by the return of quarterback Clayton Tuner (Marietta, GA), the season's original starter who was injured in the Dean game three weeks ago. Harried and hurried by a fierce Louisburg blitz scheme for much of the game, the freshman finished his comeback game 8 for 21 with one interception. But his gritty play was rewarded with the three TD passes he threw to Henriquez.
The first came off a three-yard shovel pass, which capped a 5-play 51-yard drive in the first quarter to give Monroe a 7-0 lead.
With time running out in the second quarter and Monroe leading 7-6, Turner and Henriquez hooked up again, this time on a 64-yard pass that came after a Hurricane defender tipped the ball and, before it hit the ground, the sophomore wide receiver scooped it up and scampered into the end zone for a 14-6 lead.
With 6:37 left in the third quarter, the Hurricanes took an ominous 17-14 lead, scoring a TD off a two-play, 39-yard drive that began after an ill-advised Turner interception.
"At that point, we never sulked, we never hung our heads," Coach Karg said. "That told me a lot about this team."
"You got my back and I got yours," a bruised, but ecstatic Turner told his teammates in the post-game huddle.
Down by three with 8:54 to go in the game, Monroe was forced to go for it on a 4th-and-18 on the Hurricane's 30 yard line. That's when Henriquez made one of the plays of the year.
Turner threw him a low liner on the sideline near the Mustangs bench. As he bent to catch it, the Hurricane defender rolled over his back, and somehow 'Ru' was able to keep his balance while not going down. He straightened up and raced into the end zone for what proved to be the winning touchdown.
"I caught it clean and used my arm to keep my knee from hitting the ground," he said after the game. "It never touched,"
Henriquez led all receivers with 5 catches for 131 yards and the three touchdowns.
Freshman running back Robert Jackson (Plainfield, NJ) had a strong game, filling in for the injured Donald Thomas (Bronx, NY). Jackson carried 19 times for 107 yards.
Monroe's defense was stellar, stopping the potent Hurricane offense on numerous crucial plays. Though Monroe's 'D' only had one official sack, it was a big one by Benjamin Compton (Windsor, CT) on the final play of the game with Louisburg knocking at Monroe's door from the 17 yard-line.
Sumir Burns (Linden, NJ) led Monroe with six solo tackles and seven assists.
"It's a good feeling and we want to enjoy it for about 24 hours," Coach Karg said. "But then we're going to go back to work to prepare for Hudson Valley, who are an improved team since we saw them in a pre-season scrimmage."
Monroe will travel to Hudson Valley for a 1:00 p.m. game on Saturday October 12. They will return home to play their first-ever regular season game in their home city at City Park in New Rochelle on October 19. It will be a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against Lackawana.