WINTHROP — By the time the fourth quarter rolled around Friday night, Keegan Choate was handling ball boy duties and watching his Rambler teammates from the sidelines.

It wasn’t a demotion.

The senior quarterback was on point all night, throwing for 205 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone. Backed by a defense pitching its second shutout of the season, it all added up to a 47-0 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale win over Mountain Valley. The Ramblers improved to 4-1 in Class D South, the Falcons dropped to 1-4.

“Every game’s important. Next week against Nokomis, we’re going to go into it thinking it’s a must-win game,” said Choate, who only played the opening half with the game well in hand. “Every game since Week 1 has been a must-win game for us.”

Choate completed 11 of 16 passes and never played a down in the second half, spreading the attack out to four different receivers. He hit Gavin Perkins for two of his TD passes, while Ryan Baird and Beau Schmelzer caught the others.

That was just a taste of the offensive options for Winthrop.

While Choate threw for more than two bills, the ground game was nearly as impressive for the Ramblers. Winthrop chewed up another 287 yards rushing for a total on the night of 492 yards total offense.

Jevin Smith’s 32-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter turned the game into a rout. Smith ran for 53 yards total, while Logan Baird led the team with 75 on the ground.

“To come out after the two big wins we’ve had in the last couple weeks, to come out focused — that was a concern,” Winthrop coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “Are we going to come out focused or are we going to come out and just play kind of mediocre? We came out and took care of business.

“The guys were locked in.”

But the offense was only half the story Friday night.

The Winthrop defense held Mountain Valley to just 44 yards of total offense, more than half of which came in the fourth quarter with the game handed over to the junior varsity squads.

Senior defensive back Jake Sousa caused one fumble and recovered two others. Freshman Nick Keezer pounced on the kick-off fumble forced by Sousa early in the first quarter.

All three turnovers resulted in Rambler touchdowns en route to a 41-0 halftime lead.

On the first play of two consecutive second-quarter drives for the Falcons, Sousa came up with the ball following big hits.

“You’ve got to have that drive to really want that ball. You’ve just got to push for it,” Sousa said. “I was just right in the right spot and got the ball.”

Choate took the first of those fumble recoveries and hit Perkins for a 44-yard touchdown that made it 27-0, and the second turned into an 11-play drive ending with senior fullback Kyzer Card’s 1-yard scoring plunge.

“It is definitely easy to overlook the defense, because the offense is stellar,” Sousa said. “But now that people are realizing that the defense is crushing it, I think they’re realizing that both sides of the ball are just nasty.”

“Every drive we’ve got to aim for a touchdown,” Choate said. “It’s nice when the defense gives us turnovers, it gives us more opportunities to score.”

And that’s where Choate was so good at directing the Winthrop offense — even if some of that came in the form of making sure he was getting footballs back into game play when both Perkins and Owen Harding took turns under center in the second half.

He orchestrated a five-play drive with 1:39 remaining in the first half, one capped with a 14-yard touchdown strike to Schmelzer as time expired in the second quarter. It turned out to be his final work of the night.

“We work on everything in practice. We throw the ball, we run the ball,” St. Hilaire said. “We’ve really come together offensively.”

Freshman Robbie Feeney ran in from 4 yards out for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to account for the final scoring.

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