EXETER – This past Friday the 13th, Exeter football put on a performance that will give Immanuel some nightmares. From the opening kickoff, the Exeter offense rolled through an Immanuel defense that seemed to have no answers. The Eagles tried to keep up, but Exeter pulled away for the 54-32 win at Monarch Stadium.
“It was a complete team effort,” Exeter head coach Keirsten Lamb said. “The defense bended but it didn’t break and it played tough. And the offense came up big tonight with a whole bunch of different people contributing.”
It was another dominant win in a stellar season for the Monarchs as they moved to 8-0. With the win, the Monarchs took sole possession of first place in the Tri County-Sequoia League standings with a 2-0 record.
Starting quarterback Jacob Molina had himself a game for the Monarchs, as he threw four touchdown passes and he ran for two touchdowns. While Molina credits his success to his offensive line and his receivers, Lamb knows the offense would not be as deadly without Molina leading the way.
“He played amazing tonight,” Lamb said. “He’s reading the defense and he’s playing the field very well. He’s just having a great year.”
Molina got the offense rolling from the opening kickoff. On the opening drive, Molina moved the Monarchs down the field with both his arm and his legs. He then capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to give Exeter an early 7-0 lead.
On their next drive, Molina began making plays in the passing game as he found Ruben Ruiz for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 14-0. While the Eagles started slow, Molina and Monarch offense clearly had no such troubles to start the night
“We just trusted each other and trusted the game plan,” Molina said. “We all believed in each other and we knew what we had to do.”
After the slow start, the Eagles finally got their ground game going to march down the field. After reaching the Exeter one-yard line, quarterback Jake Horn kept the ball on a sneak to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Exeter quickly answered as Aidan Robertson returned the ensuing kickoff all the way for a touchdown. The Eagles swung right back with a scoring drive that resulted in another one-yard touchdown run from Horn.
When the Exeter offense got back on the field, it did not skip a beat. Just like the first two drives of the night, Molina moved the chains with both his arm and his legs. He then found Robertson deep down the middle for a 32-yard touchdown to make it a 27-13 game heading into halftime.
On their first drive of the third, the Monarchs got right back to work. Niqo Calderon got going on the ground to lead the Monarchs down to the Immanuel seven-yard line, where Molina threw a touchdown to Robertson to extend the lead to 34-13.
Through the rest of the night, the Monarchs and Eagles exchanged touchdowns. Everytime the Eagles scored to make it a two-possession game, the Monarchs would respond to maintain momentum. As his team struggled to keep up, Immanuel head coach Josh Henderson had to give the Exeter offense its due.
“They’re clearly the best team in our league offensively,” Henderson said. “Great quarterback play and great running back play. They really just played an excellent game on offense.”
Molina continued to play well as he ran the ball in for a 52-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Later in the game, Molina threw a ten-yard touchdown pass to Robertson to make it a 54-32 game.
On their final possession, the Eagles lost a fumble at the Exeter one-yard line. The Eagles are now 4-4 on the season with a 2-1 league record, good for second in the Tri County-Sequoia League Standings. With just two games left in the year, the Eagles will look to quickly learn from this loss and move forward.
“We’re a team that’s in the process of learning how to be consistent and learning how to execute,” Henderson said. “We didn’t do a good job tonight of getting our guys prepared to come out in the first quarter, so I would say we have got to do a better job of getting them ready.”
With just two games left this season, the Monarchs will look to keep playing well and finish the season strong. With games against Sierra Pacific and Reedley to end the year, Lamb knows the Monarchs will need to stay ready if they want to remain undefeated.
“It’s a lot easier to get on top than it is to stay on top because you now have a target on your back and everyone wants to knock you off the top,” Lamb said. “But we’re in a super cool spot and I’m super proud of these kids. They work hard every day and my coaches coach hard every day.”