Football: Mustangs give Demons a real scare
Sky-Hi Daily News
It may have been a mismatch on paper, but somebody forgot to tell the West Grand Mustangs they were not supposed to be able hold their own on the field against the Buena Vista Demons.
The final score read, 30-14, but if ever there were a game in which the score was not indicative of the action on the field, this fit that definition.
The Mustangs rallied from a 20-0 deficit to score two third-quarter touchdowns. After a Buena Vista field goal, West Grand was knocking at the doorstep for a third score which would have brought the score to 23-21. There was less than a minute to play but there was always the possibility of a successful onside kick and a miracle comeback.
However, on second-and-goal, Frank Gioscia of Buena Vista stepped in front of a Mackenzie Widener pass and raced 100 yards for a score to inflate the score to the final margin.
Buena Vista is a Class 2A team, and they have a strong football tradition under coach Bob Marken. In 1999, they won a state title and have been in contention for more hardware. The Demons, after a rough start in 2007, look to be a playoff contender again this season.
West Grand is a Class 1A team, and they also have a strong football tradition under coach Chris Brown. An early season win over Hayden had the Mustangs thinking playoffs again, but losses to Grand Valley and Meeker left the team on the outer fringes of the playoff picture. In addition, the team lost both its tailbacks to injury during the opening kickoff last week against Meeker.
The game on Friday night against Buena Vista had an inauspicious start. The Demons took the opening kickoff to the West Grand 41-yard line and scored four plays later on a Larson Greenfield 11-yard run. Peter Chambers tacked on the extra point and it was quickly 7-0.
The Mustangs showed a little spark on offense on their first possession but an incomplete pass and a penalty stalled the drive. With a strong wind at his back, punter Marshall Kraker booted the ball into the Demon end zone.
Behind the running of Greenfield and Jordan Graff, Buena Vista quickly moved down field to score on an 80-yard drive. Throughout the evening, Greenfield proved to be particularly tough to tackle as, unofficially, the junior ran for more than 220 yards.
Graff tacked on an additional 79 yards, utilizing a more bruising and punishing running style.
At this point, the game started to become very entertaining. Utilizing adjustments from the coaching staff and excellent execution on the field, West Grand slowly took control of the game.
The Mustangs were unable to score in the first half, but after the second Buena Vista touchdown, West Grand drove to the Demon 20-yard line. The drive stalled, but what was particularly galling to the coaching staff and many of the fans for West Grand is that on one of the plays, a Buena Vista player came in late for a tackle and appeared to hit Widener with his helmet.
Unfortunately for the Mustang faithful, the officiating crew saw no transgression worthy of assessing a penalty. However, what happened during the drive is the Mustangs realized they could move the ball against the powerful Demon defense.
Because both teams utilized a running attack and West Grand was fairly proficient with the pass, the first half quickly expired and Buena Vista held a 14-0 lead.
The Demons received the second-half kickoff and smartly moved the ball down field with Greenfield scoring on a 51-yard run. The Mustangs blocked the extra-point, which seemed inconsequential at the time. It almost played a huge factor at the end of the game.
With its newfound confidence on offense, West Grand took the kickoff and moved quickly down field, scoring on a Widener eight-yard run. Just prior to that run, the senior quarterback had rambled 43 yards on a run up the middle. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was tacked on to the end of that long run due to a grabbing-the-facemask penalty against Buena Vista.
The West Grand defense took a cue from the offense and stopped the Demons on three downs. Keith Jones had a huge sack on third down to pin Buena Vista inside their own 10-yard line. Punting into the wind, the Demons were able to advance the ball only to their own 38-yard line.
With a taste of success, the Mustangs moved quickly down field, scoring on an eight-play drive. A key play was a fourth down toss from Widener to Louie Fared who stretched out to earn the critical inches needed for a first down.
Widener scored the touchdown on a 14-yard run. As he had after the first touchdown, Sky Handyside booted the PAT through the uprights and the score of the game was suddenly a close 20-14.
On the next possession for Buena Vista, the third quarter came to an end and the Demons had the wind at their back for the final frame. That proved to be advantageous for the host team as they were able to boot a 32-yard field goal to increase their advantage to 23-14.
West Grand was unable to earn a first down on its next possession and the two teams exchanged punts. On the final possession by Buena Vista, Mustang defenders Drew Sidener, Farrell, Jones and Handyside combined to stop the Demons for a negative 11 yards on their final two plays.
That forced the Demons to punt which, with the help of the wind ,sailed through the end zone.
With 80 yards to go into a strong wind and less than four minutes to play, it would have been easy for the Mustangs to claim a moral victory.
That would underestimate the squad from Kremmling. Behind the passing of Widener to Kraker and Farrell and three runs by Widener, the Mustangs moved inside the five-yard line and looked every bit like the team with the upper hand. At that point, the passing lane from Widener to Farrell quickly closed and the Demons were able to escape.
For the game, Widener ran for 123 yards on 17 carries and completed five of 10 passes for 75 yards. Farrell had 45 yards on 13 carries and freshman Connor Widener acquitted himself quite nicely with 60 yards on 13 carries.
Farrell had three receptions for 48 yards while Kraker snared two passes for 27 yards.
The loss dropped West Grand’s record to 4-4 with one game left.
The Mustangs will conclude their season against the Paonia Eagles on Friday night in Kremmling with a 7 p.m. start scheduled. It will be senior night for the West Grand senior football players.
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