MONTICELLO – Joey Sprinkle at Triston Foran is the undisputed connection of Monticello’s No.1 football quarterback this season.
The seniors managed four touchdown passes in the Sages’ first three games. Sprinkle hit Foran again on a 1-yard play in the first half of Friday night’s Illini Prairie Conference game against visiting Bloomington Central Catholic.
But Monticello, the state’s third team in the latest statewide Associated Press Class 3A poll, needed more from the duo.
And I got it just at the right time.
Sprinkle targeted Foran just over the goal line with less than 4 minutes left in regulation, only for Foran and Saints senior defensive back Jake Slaughter to come down with double possession.
After an incomplete first call, the officials got together and decided that Foran scored the touchdown that allowed Monticello to fend off BCC 32-27.
“Their child touched it first, but Triston got his hands on it right away. And the rule, double possession, the ball goes on the offensive, ”said Sages coach Cully Welter. “Both parties are going to be upset with what the call was, but for me it was the right call.”
Foran described the critical play as a wheel route, with Sprinkle delivering a throw that allowed Foran to point the ball.
“We both had it for a while, and we struggled with it and eventually I came away with the ball,” Foran said. “(Slaughter) ripped it off after I fell.… Then, after getting another angle, they realized I had possession and I was in it.
“I’m not generally considered a jump ball catcher. But (Sprinkle) trusts me, I trust him and the trust is there.
This unusual game topped the score between Monticello (4-0, 4-0 Illini Prairie) and BCC (3-1, 3-1) in a two-way game that saw five lead changes.
“It’s amazing now, with a 4-0 record,” said Sprinkle. “We knew it was going to be a battle anyway, but now the teams are going to chase us.”
The Saints actually took a 10-0 advantage thanks to a 17-game first down and a second possession field goal. But the Sages rebounded from the first Sprinkle-to-Foran touchdown pass and a 4-yard Sprinkle rush.
BCC looked likely to take an 18-12 lead on the 17-yard touchdown pass from second-year halftime courtesy quarterback Colin Hayes to junior Ryan Hoeferle.
Only for Sprinkle to find senior Jacob Tackett on a scoring 8-yard pass barely a minute before the break.
Things got even crazier after the intermission.
Monticello extended his lead to 26-18 after a defensive interception from senior Peyton Scott preceded a touchdown pass from Sprinkle to junior Blake McDuffle, who then added a defensive sack.
But the Saints blocked a punt late in the third quarter to force a safety, then took a 27-26 lead with 8 minutes and 24 seconds to go on a scoring 2-yard run from Slaughter.
All of this simply set the stage for the offensive heroism of some late-game Sages.
First a 47-yard Sprinkle pass to junior Tylor Bundy in third and 26. Then, Foran’s strange touchdown.
“Bloomington Central Catholic has improved a lot. … We knew we were going to have a tough outing, ”said Welter,“ and we were 10-0 behind, so I’m really proud of our kids’ persistence. “
Colin Likas is the preparations coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be contacted at [email protected], or on Twitter at @clikasNG.