Let’s go back to Aug. 23, 2013.
Only 20 seconds into this early season opener at Powhatan Field, its’ 7-0. By the end of the first quarter, it’s 27-0. And by halftime, it’s 48-0, which triggers a running clock for the entire second half.
When the first game of the Glenn Tidwell Era comes to a merciful end, Menchville had lost to Maury by the embarrassing score of 62-0. The Monarchs had given up 480 total yards. They had finished with minus-40.
“To me, it was personal,” running back Malik Dixon said. “The first play, they scored. So I took it real personal.”
A year later to the day, almost to the day, there was a stunning reveral. With a simple but effective offense and a vastly improved defense, the Monarchs pulled a legitimate shocker by beating Maury 28-7 Friday night at Todd Stadium.
Not that the Commodores are a championship contender — if Friday night is any indication, they’ll do well to finish .500. But Maury was coming off an 8-4 season and advanced a round in the 5A South playoffs. Menchville was coming off a 1-9 season in which it scored a total of 32 points.
The so-called experts? Well, this newspaper picked the Commodores to win 44-7. VirginiaPreps.com predicted 35-6 and VHSL-Reference.com 36-10 — both Maury.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
“Last year, they had a really good team, and I knew a lot of the players they had last year weren’t here,” Tidwell said. “So it matched (up) better for us. They’re still a great football team, but I knew how hard our kids had worked and how much stronger we were.”
The Commodores still came in with plenty of weapons. Tailback Delveon Little rushed for 1,300-plus yards last season and tight end Derek Wilder recently committed to Old Dominion. Maury averaged 6 yards per offensive snap, but the key stat was end zone efficiency.
The Monarchs were 2-for-2. The Commodores were 1-for-4.
The turning point came with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. Leading 7-2, Maury had a fourth-and-17 from the Monarchs’ 28-yard line. Quarterback Kevin Mills completed a pass to Wilder over the middle for the first down, but Wilder wanted more.
Struggling for the goal line, Wilder was stripped of the ball by Menchville linebacker Ray Savage — you may remember his father of the same name at Warwick and Virginia . Safety Xavier Keys (nine tackles) recovered in the end zone.
On the next play, Torey Guilford went 80 yards for a touchdown. The Monarchs had been a yard short of trailing 14-2. Instead, after a botched extra point, they led 8-7.
“Huge,” Tidwell said of the swing.
Trailing 22-7 in the third quarter, Maury faced fourth-and-goal from the 9. Savage sacked Mills to end that threat. On their next possession, Mills threw incomplete on third and fourth down from the Monarch 11.
“We’re a lot quicker on defense,” Tidwell said. “We have some quick ends and we have some linebackers who can run. And we’re a year older, too. Still young, but a year older.”
Friday night was the first time Menchville beat a team that had gone to the playoffs the previous year since the mid-1990s. It was the Monarchs' first season-opening win since 2006.
The Monarchs had 276 total yards, their most since Oct. 29, 2010. That’s also 57 yards more than they had after six games last season. Guilford had 129 yards and two touchdowns on only four carries. Dixon added 90 on 11 with a touchdown.
The Monarchs weren’t perfect Friday night. Far from it, in fact. They turned the ball over three times, including on their first two plays from scrimmage. They gave away 111 yards in penalties.
But maybe that’s what was so impressive: Menchville made plenty of mistakes but still beat Maury by 21 points.
It was a monumental win for a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1995.
“It means a lot, but we’re going to let it go,” Dixon said. “We have Bethel next, and we have to get prepared.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun