Devils hold off Tigers for first win at home
GYPSUM — Eagle Valley senior Matt Lee wasn’t on the roster handed out before Friday night’s game against Summit at Hot Stuff Stadium.
But, man, did he show up on the field. Just call him Johnny on the Spot after the senior wideout and safety picked off two passes, hauled in a touchdown pass and pounced on a loose ball late to keep a drive alive in the Devils’ 12-7 win over the Tigers.
The senior also hauled in an 83-yard pass from Will Geiman, the longest play of the night, but the Devils failed to punch in the score. Lee’s only regret on a standout night? Getting run down after he caught Geiman’s pass in stride on a go route close to midfield.
“I just got caught,” Lee said with a smile. “It was just a pro right slant and go.”
With the win, Eagle Valley improved to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the 3A Western Slope. The Tigers fell to 1-1 in league play and 2-5 overall.
The Devils chewed up nearly eight minutes of clock on their opening drive, marching 80 yards for six points. Facing a fourth-and-1 situation at the Tigers’ 25, Geiman sneaked for the first down and broke through the line to find open turf between himself and the end zone. After the 25-yard touchdown scamper, the Devils were stuffed on a run up the middle for the 2-point try.
Summit took over at its own 34-yard line following the kickoff and promptly turned the ball over on its first play of the drive when Lee stepped in front of a Cameron Kalaf pass for the interception.
The Devils took over at the 36 and needed just five plays to score. Runs by Daniel Gallegos and Kodi Raper set up Eagle Valley with first-and-10 at the 18, and after two short gains, Geiman found Lee on a slant on third down, and the senior did the rest, putting the Devils up 12-0 with just a little more than two minutes left in the quarter. The Devils again were stuffed on the 2-point try.
Summit County’s offense finally got untracked on its next drive, with Jackson Veeneman breaking off a 23-yard gain on first down, then Aidan Collins taking a sweep for 16 yards. Three plays later, Kalaf faked a handoff and took off around the left side for 21 yards that put the Tigers at the Devils’ 8. But an offsides penalty backed up Summit and the Devils held, with Lee and a swarm of defenders engulfing Veeneman on fourth-and-goal from the 4.
“No. 10, hats off to that guy,” Eagle Valley coach Gabe Brown said of Kalaf after the win. “He’s an amazing athlete, he’s a hard guy to defend, so we anchored down and were disciplined. They followed the orders out there tonight, and we rallied to the ball really well.”
The Devils punted on their third possession of the first half, and Summit, with Kalaf leading the charge, drove all the way down to the Eagle Valley 14-yard line on seven plays. But on first-and-10 from the 14, Lee again picked off Kalaf, stepping in front of a pass right at the goal line.
Geiman then hit Lee on the 83-yard bomb three plays later but the Devils failed to convert inside the red zone.
Summit finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a 16-play drive that included two fourth-down conversions and Kalaf scoring on fourth-and-goal from the 5, when he ran untouched into the end zone after faking a handoff.
The Devils defense wouldn’t give up any more points, with Kodi Raper picking off Kalaf late. On Summit’s last-gasp final drive, Abraham Garcia and a swarm of other Devils engulfed Kalaf to turn the Tigers over on downs and seal the win.
“It feels great. This week we were really hard on them,” Brown said. “We asked a lot from them.”
Next up for Eagle Valley is a trip to Palisade, while the Tigers face Steamboat.
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Eagle County Schools has released a draft document detailing how the school district intends to return in-person and hybrid instruction starting Aug. 18.