Eagle Valley D shuts down Cortez
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Style points don’t matter to the Eagle Valley football team. Wins do.
That’s exactly what the Devils accomplished on Friday night in Gypsum. Eagle Valley beat Montezuma-Cortez, 23-3, in a workmanlike effort for its third win in a row. The victory improves the Devils’ record to 3-3 in the Slope, and 3-5 overall after starting the year 0-5.
With the game in limbo in the second half, it was the Eagle Valley defense that ramped up its play. The Devils shutout the Panthers after the break, and limited them to just 200 yards of total offense in the game.
“The coaches prepared us once again,” senior Zak Thrall said. “They got on us about their formations and their plays. Our coaches had us ready for different formations. They had us ready for anything.”
The different formations Montezuma-Cortez employed Friday night included a variety of different shotgun sets. The Panthers most effective play sent wingback Keenan Garcia in motion where he would receive a toss from quarterback Logan Case. After getting burned a handful of times on the play, Eagle Valley shut it down, just like the rest of the Montezuma-Cortez offense.
“The first half, we made a couple of stops, but I felt like they were moving the ball on us pretty good,” linebacker John Crawford said. “The second half, they couldn’t do anything. We were shutting them down pretty well.”
Eagle Valley forced a fumble and a turnover on downs on Montezuma-Cortez’s first two offensive possessions of the second half, setting up the Devils with excellent field position. They took advantage.
Harrison Neal and Brian Carrillo provided the big plays on Eagle Valley’s first scoring march after halftime. Neal went 11 yards on the first play of drive. Two plays later, he burst through the line for 14 more. Then on third-and-8, Carrillo took a toss 23 yards down to the 1-yard line.
Matt Morgan capped the drive with a quarterback sneak for the touchdown to give the Devils a 16-3 lead.
“Harrison Neal has been looking better each week,” Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno said. “All of our backs have been running hard. I thought Trent Book had some nice carries tonight. John Crawford, too. It’s nice to see all our backs working together.”
The Devils put the game away on their next possession. Facing a third-and-long, Ramunno and his staff called a play they’d been saving all season. Morgan rolled right and threw a screen pass back across the field to beat an over-pursuing Panthers defense. Crawford went untouched 43 yards down the left sideline for the TD, stretching the lead to 23-3 with 3:09 left in the game.
“There were tons of people around Morgan, I didn’t think he would get the pass off,” Crawford said. “(The pass) was so high, I thought someone would just come and kill me. When I looked up, nothing but green. Zak Thrall made a huge block downfield. There was just a huge smile on my face.”
Morgan finished the game 3-of-5 through the air for 76 yards and the TD. The senior also added two short rushing touchdowns.
Eagle Valley controls first half
The Devils moved methodically down the field for a pair of first half scoring drives. On its opening possession of the game, Eagle Valley went 62 yards in 13 plays, with Morgan plunging over the goal line from three yards out for the TD.
Book converted twice on third down with 6-yard runs. Later in the drive, Neal went three yards on fourth-and-2 for another first down. Neal led Eagle Valley with 85 yards rushing on 14 carries. Book added another 36 on ground.
On their next drive, the Devils again played keep away. This time, Eagle Valley melted 8 minutes, and 14 seconds off the clock before scoring. Parker Ray booted a 36-yard field goal to send the game into halftime 9-3.
The Eagle Valley players didn’t need to be reminded who is on the schedule for next week. That’s right, the Devils will travel to Eagle-Vail to meet rival Battle Mountain.
The Huskies struggled again on Friday night in a 53-6 loss to Rifle, but Eagle Valley knows Battle Mountain will be fired up to defend their home turf.
“We’re ready,” Thrall said. “It’s a game we look forward to all year. We can’t underestimate them, that’s for sure. But, we’ll be ready.”
NOTES: Following Morgan’s touchdown to make it 16-3, Montezuma-Cortez’s Joe Maestas suffered a big hit from Carrillo on the next kickoff. Maestas stayed on the field for more than 10 minutes, and was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. Montezuma-Cortez coaches said they thought he had a “stinger” and should be OK. It appeared Maestas was having no difficulty moving his arms and legs after the big hit.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 748-2935
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