Devils push through in second half for win
EDWARDS — In breaking news, an actual football game broke out between Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain.
The Devils maintained Eagle County supremacy, winning their fourth straight against their rivals, but the Devils had to work for it in a 21-7 victory over the Huskies on Friday night in Edwards.
In the end, the solution was simple for the Devils.
Give the ball to Jay Neal.
Of course, it’s not that simple. The Eagle Valley offensive and defensive lines took over this game in the second half. Eagle Valley ran 23 plays to Battle Mountain’s seven during the decisive juncture.
Tied 7-7 after the first half, Neal and the Devils’ beef started the half with a 20-yard gain. While this drive did not bear fruit — the Huskies’ Demetrius Parrish recovered a Neal fumble to end it — it was a portent.
The Devils’ defense established itself as well in the third quarter. Eagle Valley’s Griffin Lay dumped Parrish for a sack to send Battle Mountain to a three-and-out. The Eagle Valley offense took over at its 40-yard line and served up a whole bunch of Neal. Nine plays later, after gaining good chunks of yardage, Neal finally broke one off. It was a 19-yard touchdown run with 10:42 left in the game for a 14-7 lead.
Eagle Valley’s pass rush had its ears pinned back on Battle Mountain’s next possession. Two sacks and a fumble recovery later, the Devils took over on the Huskies’ 10. To its credit, Battle Mountain’s defense forced the Devils to turn the ball over on downs, but the Huskies only delayed the inevitable.
On third-and-7 from their own 8, the Huskies attempted what looked like a screen. As it turned out, it was a lateral, and Eagle Valley came up with the ball on the Battle Mountain 3.
Devils quarterback Garrett Martin called his own number for a touchdown and the Devils iced the win.
Even first half
Battle Mountain had to have that sinking sensation on Eagle Valley’s first drive of the game. The Devils’ offensive line had the push and its backs were running at will. Though Eagle Valley was running the pistol offense, it had the familiar feel of the double-wing, different backs pounding the ball.
Wyatt Borah and Neal did the damage, but it was Kyle Williams who did the honors from 2 yards out with 6:58 left in the first quarter.
A Chase Keep punt stuck Eagle Valley on its 9-yard line late in the first quarter. The Devils mounted a drive, even breaking off a 16-yard pass from Martin to Matthew Sanchez. However, the Huskies’ defense firmed up and Keep stuffed Trever LaFramboise on fourth-and-8 on the Battle Mountain 34.
The Huskies took it from there, launching a 13-play, 64-yard march. The Huskies converted on a fourth-and-1 from their 45, thanks to some deft scrambling from quarterback Parrish. Wyatt Harwood ran hard on that drive and pounded it from 8 yards to make it a 7-7 tie at the half.
Both teams should leave Friday’s showdown with a good vibe. The Devils are 2-0 and finally get a home game at the newly christened John Ramunno Field against Basalt, a final nonconference game before the 3A Slope starts.
Battle Mountain, meanwhile, actually made this a game. While the loss stings, the Devils have beaten the Huskies, 54-0, 62-0 and 35-12 the past three years. This one was in doubt until there was 6:21 left in the game.
The Huskies are at Steamboat Springs next week.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.