Kremmling " Punishing ground attack leads Mustangs to second win of season
Sky-Hi Daily News
The West Grand High School football team rode a powerful running attack to a 34-14 victory over the Nederland Panthers last Friday in the home-opener for the Mustangs.
Four running backs for West Grand pounded out nearly 300 yards and scored five touchdowns. Jake Motz and Connor Widener each rushed for more than 100 yards.
After Motz suffered an injury that took him out of the game in the third quarter, Justin Strang entered the game to rush for 32 yards and two touchdowns. For good measure, freshman Travis Smith got his first varsity action and gained 18 yards on three carries.
The game was not without its tension, as Nederland rebounded from a rocky start to score 14 points in the third quarter and draw to within 20-14 with over 8 minutes left in the third frame.
The Panthers picked off a Tim Ritschard pass and drove nearly 76 yards in seven plays and appeared to have snatched the momentum away from the Mustangs. It was the only interception thrown by Ritschard, who was being dragged to the ground as he threw the pass.
The sophomore quarterback completed four of eight passes for 61 yards. His stable of running backs averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Nederland clawed its way back into the game behind the mercurial play of quarterback Chase Chandler. The senior gained confidence in the third quarter when he threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tim Plumb on a fourth down play. On the second touchdown drive, he completed a 55-yard pass to Steve Vero and an 18-yard pass to Plumb. Vero scored the touchdown on a four-yard run.
After that second touchdown, the Mustangs appeared to be in a big hole when the officials ruled that Mustangs returner Strang touched his knee to the ground at the West Grand 11-yard line. Making things even dicier was the fact that Motz was out of the game. The senior had rushed for two touchdowns and 133 yards on 15 carries.
Widener, who had been playing at fullback, was moved to tailback and Smith was called in to play at fullback.
Widener gained 36 yards on four consecutive carries and then broke off a run of over 40 yards, only to have it called back on a penalty.
Undaunted, the sophomore took a screen pass from Ritschard and raced for 22 yards. On the next carry Widener gained another 30 yards.
At that point, coach Chris Brown called timeout to give Widener a breather. After the game, Brown said he saw that Widener needed a rest so Strang was inserted into the game. It would be the first offensive experience of the year for the senior transfer from Hot Sulphur Springs.
Strang took the first handoff and, with a classic downhill running style, he raced 12 yards with a quick burst of speed. Widener came back into the game at fullback and blocked for Strang as Strang scored a touchdown on a one-yard run.
On the ensuing defensive series for West Grand, the Mustangs forced four incomplete passes by Chandler and West Grand took over on the Nederland 30-yard line.
Smith who had been lining up at fullback, took the first handoff from the tailback position and ran 11 yards for a first down. Smith, Widener and Strang then took turns pounding the ball at the Nederland defense until Strang scored on a six-yard touchdown.
Senior placekicker Sky Handyside tacked on the extra point for his fourth successful PAT kick.
Handyside also attempted a 45-yard field goal in the first quarter that was just short of its mark.
The game started with Nederland going into the teeth of a north wind that made punting an adventure all night long.
For the game, the Mustang defense held Nederland to 41 yards of rushing on 19 attempts. Chandler was 11 for 21 in the passing department for 147 yards and one touchdown plus an interception.
After Chandler was flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting what he saw as pass interference, Plumb took over as quarterback and completed one pass of five yards.
Widener finished the game for West Grand with 116 yards rushing in 18 attempts and 40 yards on two catches. Motz gained one yard on one catch and Drew Klotz gained 20 yards on one catch.
To summarize the scoring, Motz and Strang each scored twice and Widener scored the fifth touchdown. Handyside added four points on successful PAT kicks.
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