If the Central District wasn’t aware of the athleticism and explosiveness of the Meadowbrook offense, take note. Though the Hopewell Blue Devils jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and tied the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter, the Monarchs dominated the fourth quarter and won their first Central District matchup of the season 56-28 over Hopewell.
“Stopping Gerard Johnson is tough,” said Hopewell High School head coach Ricky Irby. “Once we started to turn the ball over, things got a lot more difficult; the Monarchs have so many athletes and it’s hard to cover them all.”
Hopewell easily jumped out to a 14-0 lead, cutting through the defense while Meadowbrook’s offense stalled on the first two drives. Hopewell running back Moses Tolbert ran the ball in for a score, and caught a 14-yard pass from Octavious Taylor for the Blue Devils’ second touchdown.
Meadowbrook quickly answered, as Gerard Johnson took off on a 26-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7. On Hopewell’s next drive, Meadowbrook cornerback Alveon Truesdale picked off his first of three passes on the night. On The Blue Devils next drive, it was Truesdale again, picking off his second pass of the night.
The Monarchs are without starting defensive back Rudy Edouzin with a broken arm, making it key that Truesdale stepped up as a playmaker in the secondary. Also intercepting and deflecting a pass was sophomore Daijuane Dorsey, who was pulled up from junior varsity this week.
“I knew for us to win we’d have to play a good game,” said Truesdale. “I watched film and got ready and knew I needed to play well to help give us a chance.”
Meadowbrook would score off the turnover, as Johnson hit wide receiver Terelle Whitaker for a 13-yard touchdown strike.
Another turnover by Hopewell on their subsequent drive set up a short field and another touchdown pass from Johnson to Whitaker of eight yards to take the lead at 21-14, where at score would remain at the half.
Hopewell would tie the game at 21, and then after another Whitaker touchdown reception, this one for 58 yards, Hopewell would tie the game again at 28 with 11:47 left to go in the game. That’s when the wheels fell off for the Blue Devils.
The next kick-off by Hopewell would be returned by Whitaker 80 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game.
“I just wanted to go out and play a good game for my team,” said Whitaker, a junior. “I wanted to give my team energy.”
On the next Blue Devil drive, Truesdale would grab his third pick and take it 45 yards for a score. Then off a Hopewell fumble recovered by Monarchs linebacker Kane Smith, running back Earl Hughes would punch it in from two yards out. One drive later, Hughes would score again from six yards out, as Meadowbrook took advantage of eight Hopewell turnovers in the game.
“It was a great overall effort by the team tonight,” said Meadowbrook head coach Troy Taylor. “I’m proud of these guys; now this is over and we have to prepare for Dinwiddie.”
Meadowbrook was led by Johnson, who threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 154 more yards and a touchdown. Whitaker had five catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns, and returned a kick-off for an 80-yard score. Hughes tallied 51 yards on the ground to go with his two scores.
With the win, the Monarchs improved to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Central District. They will face Dinwiddie on the road this Friday in what will be a challenging match-up for both teams. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.