Cougars end up on top to edge Saints, 38-36
GYPSUM – The education of the young Vail Christian eight-man football team continues.The Saints’ offense performed more consistently, and the defense showed flashes of brilliance, but tackling lapses led to a 38-36 loss to Resurrection Christian Saturday at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum.”We spotted them 14 points. It was 14-0 right off the bat, and we rallied back, and we put up a fight,” Saints coach Tim Pierson said. “It’s just heartbreaking. The fight’s in this team, and it’s a team full of a lot of character, and they’re out here to have fun. Football’s fun for them. It’s fun to make plays, and they’re doing it.”Down earlyThere was no shortage of playmaking from both sides Saturday.
Cougars quarterback Levi Roth, who would inflict most of his damage on the ground, started his day with a 9-yard scoring pass to Tyler Scheer with 8:01 left in the first quarter. Roth to Brian Christie on the conversion made it 8-0.While the Saints’ offense sputtered on its first three possessions, the defense did its part early to keep it close. On Resurrection’s second possession, Jordan Foster dumped Roth for a sack and Jaryd Francis closed the drive with a pick.But late in the first quarter and early in the second, the Cougars established their theme – a lot of Roth and Casey Welzig on the ground. The two marched 68 yards down the field, capped by a 2-yard plunge by Roth to make it 14-0.Roth had a huge day on the ground, running 25 times for 260 yards and four touchdowns, while Welzig had 54 yards on 13 rushes.”We can’t come out flat. That’s huge,” Pierson said. I think defensively early on we struggled, and the times that we struggled on defense, the players stepped up and made plays. We just need to keep getting better on defense and the same thing on offense, just getting better.”Saints on the marchBoth units started to show that improvement as the game continued. On third-and-17 from the Saints’ 12, Saints quarterback Jonathan Armstead hooked up with James Graef for a clutch 29-yard gain. Two plays later, it was Armstead to Josh Sibley for 53 yards and a score. Armstead found Graef on likely the first 12-yard conversion – the Saints had two procedure penalties – in the program’s history to close the gap to 14-8.
Foster dumped Roth again, and the Saints had great field position on their 46. They didn’t waste it. Armstead ran 45 yards for the touchdown and the tie at 14. Armstead had another big game Saturday. The junior ran 23 times for 222 yards and also threw for another 171.Roth called his own number with 1:49 left in the half for 26 yards to give the Cougars a 22-14 lead going into intermission.The Saints came out clicking in the second half with a 71-yard drive. It was a whole lot of Armstead with some Bjorn Bauer and Josh Glandorf thrown in. Armstead’s big play was a 32-yard run, which set up his 5-yard TD scamper, pulling Vail Christian within 2.After Roth needed one 50-yard run to make it 30-20, he struck again on defense, intercepting an Armstead pass. The Cougars were marching, but it was Oliver Ristow to the rescue as he committed some air larceny, halting the drive.Vail Christian made Resurrection pay on a six-play drive, highlighted by a 32-yard rumble from Armstead and a 15-yard scoring pass from Armstead to Sibley. Armstead got the two on the sweep and the Saints were thinking comeback down, 30-28.The back-breakerThose hopes didn’t last long. On the Cougars’ next possession, Roth went 71 yards for six and Resurrection converted for a 10-point lead with 6:05 to go.
While the that was likely the back-breaker, the Saints kept coming. An 8-yard run from Bauer and two passes to Bauer got the Saints into Resurrection territory. Facing third-and-one on the Cougars’ 35, Armstead put it up toward the right sideline and Sibley made a sensational, foot-dragging catch to keep the Saints going. “Great players are going to make great plays and it was a fabulous catch,” Pierson said. “I think he got two feet down and we only need one in high school. It was a great catch. Jon had pressure in his face and he made the throw. They just made a play. It was great.”Armstead then lofted a nifty pass right over Graef’s shoulder for 15 yards and a touchdown. Bauer converted, closing it to 38-36. Vail Christian tried the onside kick with 2:21 to go, but Resurrection recovered and ran out the clock.Extra pointsVail Christian is now 0-2 in league and 1-2 overall. The Saints are in DeBeque Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Doubtless, the focus of this week’s practice will be wrapping up on defense. … Speaking of tackles, some defensive stats: Ristow led the team with six tackles. Sibley, Foster, Francis and Glandorf each had four. Graef, Kyle Bruntz and Jake Blair had three apiece. … Put this into your quarterback-rating formula and see what comes out. Francis was 1-for-1 for 37 yards when he threw on the fullback option to Glandorf for a big gain in the third quarter. … Bauer, playing hurt like many Saints, ran five times for 36 yards. … Press-box trivia: How much can two Coreys talk about one Nebraska football game? A lot. Far too much. … Vail Christian’s dance team performed for the first time ever at halftime and was greeted with a standing ovation afterward.Sports Editor Chris Freud can bee reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or firstname.lastname@example.org