Rangely tackles West Grand’s Homecoming victory hopes in Kremmling | SkyHiNews.com

Rangely tackles West Grand’s Homecoming victory hopes in Kremmling

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The West Grand Mustang football team started its game with the Rangely Panthers on Friday night, Oct. 17, by driving 65 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on the Mustang’s home field in Kremmling, Colorado.

The final 42 yards were covered by Stetson Sabados when he slipped behind the Panthers secondary and caught a perfectly thrown pass from Tim Ritschard. The PAT kick by Sky Handyside was wide right but it appeared that the Mustangs would be able to turn the tide and stop a three-game losing streak.

In the end, however, Rangely quarterback Kamden Brady proved to be too elusive and too accurate with his throwing arm. The Panthers were able to build a 14-6 lead on the way to a 40-20 victory that dampened the Homecoming spirits for West Grand.

After the Mustangs scored the first touchdown, the West Grand defense was able to stop Rangely on two successive drives. The second drive was stopped when the Mustangs had a goal line stand, stopping four consecutive plays inside the 10 yard line. On the fourth-down play, senior lineman Cory Burr was able to knock the pass to the ground.

The Panthers, however, had shown the ability to produce big plays with Brady avoiding the rush and finding his receivers downfield.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs were unable to reproduce the offensive success they had enjoyed on the opening drive.

Rangely scored its first touchdown of the game on a 63-yard pass from Brady to Mark Perzinski. Michael Morton tacked on the PAT and the score was 7-6 in favor of the visiting Panthers.

On the ensuing drive by West Grand, it appeared the Mustangs had regained the spark when Ritschard hit Handyside for a 16-yard gain. However, the Panthers tacked Justin Strang for a five-yard loss on a running play and tackled Connor Widener for a five-yard loss on a

screen play and the drive ended harmlessly.

Strang got off a nice punt to pin Rangely deep in its own end of the field, but the Panthers were able to put together a drive that ended with a Brady pass to Adam Dahl in the end zone. A key play in the drive was a 17-yard gain on a draw play to Cole Barlow. The Panthers had gone almost exclusively with the pass in the first half and the draw play caught the Mustang defense off guard. After Morton tacked on the PAT, it was 14-6, a score that held up until halftime.

The Panthers received the second-half kickoff and ran off two eight-yard runs. On the next play, Brady tried to pass downfield, only to be intercepted by Matt Johnson at the Panther 48-yard line. The Mustangs moved quickly downfield, first on a 37-yard pass play from Ritschard to Sabados. The junior wide receiver again found himself open deep in Panther territory.

After a running play lost yardage, Ritschard hit Drew Klotz for a 10- yard gain. After Ritschard was sacked on a pass play, West Grand was able to score on an eight-yard Justin Strang run. The senior running back raced around left end and encountered tacklers at the goal line. Not to be denied, Strang dove for the end zone and reached out to touch the goal line pylon with the ball. The side judge signaled touchdown and it appeared the Mustangs were going to fight their way back into the game.

On the PAT attempt, the Mustangs went for a two-point play. A strong rush up the middle by Morton, however, foiled the West Grand plans as the senior lineman tackled Ritschard for a loss. The score was 14-12 in favor of the Panthers.

The joy associated with the comeback was short-lived as Rangely quickly came back to score. After the kickoff, Barlow raced for 29-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Johnson had a touchdown-saving tackle, but that only delayed the Panther score.

After a penalty slowed Rangely, Barlow took a handoff and raced 62 yards for a score. Morton was true on his PAT and Rangely’s advantage increased to 21-12.

West Grand’s Luke Miller pounced on a squib kick to give the Mustangs good field position. On a flanker-reverse pass, Sabados hit Handyside for a 24-yard catch.

Handyside made an incredible, acrobatic catch to secure the completion and keep the drive alive. The Mustangs continued to move downfield, looking for all the world like they would answer the Rangely score. On a fourth-down play, Ritschard ran the option to perfection to apparently score a touchdown.

However, in an evening that saw almost all the breaks go in favor of Rangely, the Mustang hopes were dashed when an lineman was flagged for holding and the score was wiped from the board. There was just too much yardage to make up after the penalty, and the Panthers took over on downs.

The Mustangs forced Rangely to punt and again appeared to be on the move, with Strang busting a 20-yard run. Two plays later, however, Nathan Pearce of Rangely forced a Ritschard fumble, which the Panther senior lineman was also able to recover.

The Mustang defense forced a punt, but that punt proved disastrous as it was fumbled and Rangely recovered deep in Mustang territory. Brady scored a couple of plays later and Morton’s PAT made the score 28-12.

After stopping West Grand on three straight incomplete passes, Rangely scored quickly when Travis Witherell reached the endzone on a 57-yard play. On the PAT, Handyside broke through the line to block the kick and keep the score at 34-12.

After Klotz took the next kickoff back to the 34-yard line, Rangely was able to again recover a Ritschard fumble. On a lateral and a pass play, the Panthers scored again when Brady hit Dahl for a 45-yard pass. Handyside again blocked the PAT to keep the score at 40-12.

Recovering from the onslaught of Rangely scoring, the Mustangs took the next kickoff and moved downfield, primarily on the rushing attempts of Justin Strang. For the evening, Strang rushed 20 times for 98 yards and a touchdown. West Grand scored when Ritschard hit Handyside for a nine-yard touchdown pass. For the game, Handyside grabbed four catches for 57 yards and one touchdown. Ritschard then scored a two-point conversion on a run to secure the final score of 40-20.

Late in the fourth-quarter, the Mustangs again were driving for a score when lineman Logan Osborne was able to intercept a Ritschard pass.

The Mustang season will come to a completion this Friday night in Hayden. West Grand has a 4-4 record.

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