Monessen scored the final 16 points of the game Friday night to pull off a stunning 30-20 Tri-County South Conference victory at California.
“It was a solid win for us,” said Monessen Mike Blainefield.
Isaiah Beltram scored early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run to pull Monessen close. Antwon Tucker’s two-point conversion pass from Devin Whitlock forged a 22-20 lead.
Then, Marquell Smith’s 40-yard touchdown pass from Whitlock late in the fourth quarter clinched the victory. Darius Stevenson added the 2-point conversion.
California scored the opening touchdown of the game, but the Greyhounds rallied for the halftime lead.
Darnell Howell collected a 26-yard scoring pass from Dayayne Howell and Beltram added the 2-point conversion for an 8-6 lead.
Whitlock extended the lead to 14-6 on a 20-yard touchdown run later in the quarter.
The Trojans regained the lead with 14 points in the third quarter.
Monessen’s opening game in Week Zero against Charleroi was cancelled, so the conference opener was the Greyhounds’ first game.
“We were anxious to start,” said Blainefield. “We needed time to get our bearings. It was an adjustment in the first half.”
Blainefield was looking ahead despite the marquee win over the defending conference champions.
“This was a good start for us. But, we’ll take it one week at a time,” said Blainefield, adding, “We play Springdale at home (in a non-conference game). Historically, we haven’t beat them before.”
Whitlock led Monessen with 105 yards rushing on 10 carries. He also completed two passes for 53 yards. Beltram gained 73 yards on 12 carries.
The Trojans’ Jelani Stafford carried the ball 11 times for 69 yards, and touchdowns of 2 and 1 yard. Jaeden Zuzak carried the ball seven times for 56 yards.
Austin Grillo completed 3-of-8 passes for 37 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Zemany.