WINTHROP — One defensive stop led to another Friday night.
That’s been a rarity for the football team from Winthrop-Monmouth. The Ramblers have been accustomed to getting behind early and having to follow somebody else’s lead.
This week, it was the Ramblers taking the initiative, and it helped produce their first win of the season, a 33-0 victory over Telstar.
“This is the first game we’ve had this year where we didn’t give up a touchdown on the first offensive series,” Winthrop-Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “Boom, our offense is getting the ball, and it’s 0-0. It’s a good feeling as opposed to being down.”
The Ramblers’ first defensive stand ended with an interception. That led to an early score and Winthrop-Monmouth was in control. The Ramblers picked off four passes and turned two of them into scores.
“It feels awesome,” senior back Zack Phinney said. “Starting the way we did, having a couple of lapses, not executing for the full 48 minutes, coming out and doing our job and playing hard, it really showed what kind of football we can play.”
The Ramblers won the battle of field position, won the turnover battle and controlled the line of scrimmage. The team also made the big stops on defense and had some balance on offense.
“The last four weeks, we’ve had parts where we won the offensive battle for a half,” Phinney said. “We won the defensive battle for a half. To come out and play a full 48 minutes again is just amazing.”
Telstar was held to just 104 total yards and five first downs. The Rebels only reached the red zone once. That was late in the game, but the Rambler defense stopped them at the 9 to complete the shutout.
“We put in a different defense this week,” St. Hilaire said. “It’s more aggressive and it allows the kids to be aggressive. They really pick it up even though they only had a week. They did well with it.”
After the Ramblers first possession stalled at midfield, Telstar took over but threw the ball away on its third play from scrimmage. Nick Schlosser had the pick, giving Winthrop-Monmouth the ball at the Telstar 41.
“He’s been a lineman for three years and finally got to play some linebacker this year,” St. Hilaire said. “He picked off the first one for his first interception since third grade.”
The Ramblers turned that into a one-yard plunge from Alec Brown, who led the Ramblers with 61 yards on 10 carries.
Telstar’s next possession only lasted three plays as well. Dakota Carter had that interception. Two plays later, Phinney ran it in from the 21 for a 13-0 lead with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
“We really needed this tonight,” said sophomore quarterback Matt Ingram. “This week in practice, we really got back to basics. We got back to our assignments. We really executed well.”
Carter picked off another pass but the Ramblers had to punt. That helped hem the Rebels in deep. That eventually led to a short punt and nice return by Phinney that set the Ramblers up at the 12. After a penalty, Ingram hit Brooks Bennett on a 23-yard scoring play with 10:51 left in the half.
After another stop, Carter scored from the 29 with a burst down the left side. That made it 27-0 with 6:07 left in the half. Telstar finished with just 32 total yards in the first half.
“Usually we come out and run and don’t get a ton of yards and have to throw the ball,” said Ingram, who completed three passes for 48 yards. That’s after having four interception last week against Oak Hill.
“This week, we got a ton of yards running and didn’t have to throw a lot.”
Phinney added 57 yards on 12 carries while Carter finished with 39 yards on three rushes. Winthrop-Monmouth totalled 186 yards on the ground. Calvin Glover led Telstar (0-5) with 29 yards on eight carriers. Quarterback Elijah Mason threw for 38 yards and completed four passes.
“Offensively, executing and getting the ball in the right hands and to the right players and making the blocks that we needed to, it was great to see,” St. Hilaire said. “We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Ramblers added to the lead on its first possession of the second half. Telstar fumbled the opening kickoff. It was recovered by Abram Sirois. Winthrop-Monmouth took that from the 50 and got a six-yard run by Carter for the 33-0 lead with 6:49 left in the third.
Nate Scott added another interception and added 24 yards rushing in the second half for the Ramblers.
“The kids had fun tonight, and it’s a load off their shoulders,” St. Hilaire said.