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Vail Christian grounds Eagles

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GYPSUM – And to think that Vail Christian football coach Tim Pierson was nervous before his team’s home opener against Rocky Mountain Lutheran Friday night at Hot Stuff Stadium.

Of course, it’s a Constitutional requirement for a coach to be worried before any game, but Pierson needn’t have worried.

Saints quarterback Austin Ellsworth threw for three touchdowns, running-back Mack Cooper rushed for three more and the defense was a rock as Vail Christian flew past the Eagles, 52-8.

It didn’t take long for the Saints to get going. Mike Lange had a big return to the Saints’ 48-yard line on the opening kickoff. Vail Christian needed all of two plays to score. Austin Ellsworth hit Branden Currey for a 39-yard touchdown pass and an 8-0 lead.

Gunnar Hamina came up big on defense with a fumble recovery on Rocky Mountain Lutheran’s first possession. Mack Cooper put it in the end zone with a 14-yard scamper. On a funny note, Cooper had been averaging an absurd 32 yards per carry coming into the game, so the 14-yard carry actually “dropped” his average.

The good news is that Cooper got the ball again quickly. Hamina and Ethan Ellsworth had sacks, stopping the Eagles’ next drive. The Saints got the ball on the Rocky Mountain Lutheran 44. Cooper busted off a 44-yard touchdown run and the Saints were leading 22-0 with 6:17 left in the first quarter.

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Rocky Mountain Lutheran had is first sustained drive late in the first quarter and early in the second. During that drive, the Saint’s Ethan Ellsworrth likely had the hit of the game, stoning the Eagles’ Aaron Spaude, who did not return to the game. (It was a clean hit, but forceful.)

The Saints finally stopped the Eagles on the Vail Christian 10. Cooper rumbled 73 yards, setting up a 2-yard pass from Austin Ellsworth to Currey.

With 7:11 to go in the half, Vail Christian’s Clayton Davis intercepted a pass from Eagles quarterback Levie Hill. Cooper needed just one play – a 28-yard run – and the Saints were cruising, 38-0.

Vail Christian had another short field, thanks to the defense, starting a possession on the Eagles’ 20. After a few penalties, Ellsworth hit Alex Davis for a 14-yard scoring pass.

With matters well in hand, Pierson flushed his bench to get his youngsters some playing time. Currey, now playing quarterback, ran for 98 yards and a score on the last play of the game. That was second-longest play from line of scrimmage in Saints’ history. P.J. Bevan went for 99 in 2003.

Before the game, Vail Christian observed a moment of silence for Mark Ristow, who passed away last month. Ristow, who had two sons, Oliver and Elliot, who attended Vail Christian, helped establish the Saints Booster Club. His memorial service is at the Grace Auditorium at the Vail Christian School today at 3 p.m.

To that end, there were a bunch of alumni on hand Friday night, including Jon Armstead, Josh Sibley, Will Parker, Larry Cavanaugh, Chris Schmidt and Jake Blair.

Vail Christian (2-0) concludes nonconference play next week at Longmont Christian.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

RML 0 0 0 8 – 8

Saints 22 24 0 6 – 52

First quarter

V – Austin Ellsworth to Branden Currey, 39 pass, run good, 11:05

V – Mack Cooper, 14 run, run good, 9:55

V – Cooper, 46 run, run failed, 6:17

Second quarter

V – Ellsworth to Currey, 2 pass, pass good, 8:51

V – Cooper, 28 run, run good, 7:02

V – Ellsworth to Alex Davis, 14 pass, run good , 1:37

Third quarter

No scoring

Fourth quarter

R – Jordan Cothran, 2 run, run good, 4:47

V – Currey, 98 run, conversion not attempted, 0:00