Kremmling: Mustang football team suffers first loss at hands of Meeker
Sky-Hi Daily News
The West Grand High School football team hung with the powerful Meeker Cowboys for one half, but succumbed to a strong running attack in the second half to lose its first game of the season, 52-20.
In an exciting first half, the Mustangs scored on three long plays and held the lead for much of the frame before allowing a late touchdown to fall behind before halftime, 26-20. The gam ” in Kremmling on Friday, Sept, 26 ” was the first league contest of the season for West Grand.
The Mustangs dug themselves an early hole when the Cowboys recovered a Connor Widener fumble on the opening kickoff. Meeker quickly scored when quarterback Colton Brown ran in for a 21-yard score. The Mustangs were able to stop the PAT when the interior of the line stopped the rushing attempt by Anthony Mazzola.
That 6-0 lead proved to be shortlived as West Grand scored two plays later. After taking the kickoff at its own 22 yard line, the Mustangs lost one yard on a run by Justin Strang.
On the next play, wide receiver Stetson Sabados took a pitch from quarterback Tim Ritschard and threw a long pass to Sky Handyside, who made a nice adjustment to catch the pass. Handyside sidestepped the defender and raced 40 yards for the score on a 79-yard play.
Handyside tacked on the PAT and West Grand had a 7-6 lead.
After the ensuring kickoff, the Mustangs were able to get the ball back when Sabados intercepted a pass and returned it to the Meeker 26-yard line.
West Grand was unable to generate offense on the first three plays and suffered a holding penalty. However, on a fourth-down play, Ritschard found wide receiver Drew Klotz in single coverage and tossed him a beautiful pass that Klotz gathered in as he crossed the goal line.
Handyside was again true on his PAT and the score was 14-6.
Meeker quickly answered with a score and then took advantage of a bad snap on a West Grand punt attempt to score again and make the score 18-14.
The Mustangs were able to stop the PAT attempts as Meeker struggled running in short yardage situations all night long. Unfortunately for West Grand, that proved to be the only real chink in the armor for the Cowboys.
West Grand rose up one more time in the first half to score on a 42-yard run by Justin Strang. The senior tailback for the Mustangs found an opening around the left end and put on an impressive burst of speed to outrace the Cowboy defenders.
The PAT was unsuccessful and the Mustangs enjoyed their last lead of the game at 20-18.
After the ensuring kickoff, Meeker was able to move down the field and scored. Meeker tacked on a PAT two-point run to secure a 26-20 lead.
After a short drive by West Grand, Meeker was again driving before halftime, but the Mustangs held the Cowboys out of the end zone and time expired on an incomplete pass by Brown.
In the second half, the superior size and experience for Meeker took its toll on the Mustangs. West Grand would give up ground grudginly and then the Cowboys would capitalize on a long play.
In the fourth quarter, Meeker drove to a first and goal situation and the West Grand defense rose up to stop three straight running plays, only to see a score on a fourth down play.
West Grand struggled to put together a sustained drive. The front line of the Cowboys consistently stymied the rushing attack. On the positive side, Ritschard was able to complete several passes.
Defensively, the Mustangs were able to create three turnovers. In addition to the interception by Sabados, Widener came up with one fumble and then he and Matt Johnson combined to strip a Meeker ball carrier of the ball and Widener again came up from the bottom of the pile with the ball.
In addition to being a young team, the Mustangs have sustained several injuries, particularly to its running backs. Jake Motz suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the year, and Widener and Strang are both nursing injuries of their own.
It doesn’t get any easier for West Grand as the Mustangs host Hotchkiss on Friday night. Hotchkiss isn’t quite as physical as Meeker, Mustang coach Chris Brown said, but they may have more team speed.
For the season, the Mustangs are 4-1.
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