As a junior, Malachi Fields was not eligible to win Homecoming King on Friday night at Monticello High School.
But the second-year quarterback did one better.
Fields rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Mustangs to a 28-27 overtime victory over Jefferson District rival Western Albemarle.
“It mean’s everything,” Fields said. “It’s homecoming night and everybody was counting us out, we just pulled it off. It was amazing. Everybody stayed together and pulled off this win.”
His final touchdown of the game was the most grueling. Facing fourth and goal from the 2, Fields lined up under center and tried to plow his way into the end zone. The Western Albemarle defensive line stopped the initial surge, but Fields got some help from his teammates to get the ball over the line for a touchdown and 28-21 lead.
“I just knew I had to score,” Fields said. “I had my brothers pushing me in.”
Monticello coach Jeff Lloyd said it was a no-brainer to go for it on fourth down.
“It’s a gut thing,” Lloyd said. “If I don’t make it, to everyone in the stands I’m an idiot, but I believe in our kids. I’m sure my wife was cussing me up in the stands for not going for 3 [at the end of regulation]. I said what the hell, let’s try to win it now.”
Western Albemarle (1-3, 0-1) answered the score on its first play of overtime, as Austin Shifflett found some space off left tackle and went untouched in the end zone to pull the Warriors within a point, 28-27.
After rallying from a 21-point deficit, Warriors coach Ed Redmond elected to go for two to try and win the game in overtime. Quarterback Carter Shifflett rolled to his left and tried to hit Breaker Mendenhall in the corner of the end zone, but the pass came up just short as Monticello (1-4, 1-0) celebrated the homecoming win.
Fields was nothing short of sensational in the first half, amassing 177 yards of total offense. He opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run on Monticello’s first possession to give his team a 7-0 lead with 8:02 left in the first quarter.
The junior quarterback struck again midway through the second quarter as he faked the handoff on a jet sweep and took the ball up the gut for a 68-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead at intermission.
The Mustangs went to work again on the first possession of the second half, as Fields connected with Jason Armstrong on a 30-yard touchdown strike to the left corner for a commanding 21-0 lead with 9:25 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Western Albemarle’s running game finally got going.
John Buetrow got loose for a 51-yard run, which set up Austin Shifflett’s 8-yard touchdown run to get the Warriors on the board, 21-7 with 7:25 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Carter Shifflett capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to trim the lead to 21-14 with 32 seconds left in the third.
Western Albemarle completed the comeback in the fourth quarter as Carter Shifflett finished off a 9-play, 91-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to tie the game at 21-21 with 3:04 left.
Fields rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Mustangs. He also completed 15 of 25 passes for 218 yards and another score.
“He’s a really, really good football player,” Lloyd said. “He already has one Division I offer. I don’t know why he doesn’t have more, but I think he will. He’s just special kid and he’s just going to get better and better.”
Will Trent caught six passes for 99 yards and Armstrong finished with four catches for 77 yards and a score.
Buetow rushed for 130 yards to lead Western Albemarle. Austin Shifflett finished with 92 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Carter Shifflett added 37 yards on the ground and a pair of scores.
Lloyd said this was a great way to start Jefferson District action.
“It’s a shame somebody had to lose tonight,” Lloyd said. “Give all the credit to Western, Coach Redmond and his players because they could’ve very easily just folded in the first half and they didn’t. I’m extremely proud for our kids and we needed this win.”