Eagle Valley gets Homecoming win
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Smile, John Ramunno.
Not only did your Eagle Valley football team drop Moffat County 44-21, but it did it with a physical, in-your-face style.
The Devils piled up 493 yards of total offense, including 352 yards on the ground Friday night in Gypsum. The Homecoming victory is the first of the season for Eagle Valley (1-5) after starting the year with a brutal schedule that included games against four teams that are still undefeated.
“It’s tough keeping kids up from week to week (when your losing),” Ramunno said. “They say the worst week in football is the week after a loss. We had five of those in a row. It will be a good this week to build on a win.”
The Devils can officially celebrate a happy Homecoming, thanks in large part to their offensive line. All night, Eagle Valley pushed the Bulldogs off the ball to pick up big chunks of yards. Moffat County might suffer nightmares from watching 6-foot-3, 285-pound Zak Thrall rumbling 35 yards downfield to punish a Bulldogs defender on one of those large gains.
The play epitomized the Devils all-out effort to get their first win.
“(The offensive line) is awesome,” quarterback Matt Morgan said. “They came off the ball hard this week. They played awesome tonight.”
Behind the stellar play of the five big guys up front, the Eagle Valley running backs took advantage. Nine different Devils carried the ball Friday with Harrison Neal and John Crawford leading the way with 71 yards.
“We had a bye week last week, and we worked really hard in practice,” Thrall said. “We just worked harder than them. We just pounded the ball down their throats.”
Early and often
After going three-and-out on their first possession, Eagle Valley responded with a 15-play, 89-yard drive for its first TD of the game. All 15 plays were runs, with Crawford doing most of the damage. He picked up 28 yards on a carry right up the middle to get the ball moving downfield. Later, he plunged in from 1 yard out to give the Devils a 7-0 lead.
On its next possession, Eagle Valley continued to wear out Moffat. This time, the Devils went 86 yards on 11 plays for the score. The big play of the drive was a Morgan play-action pass to Robert Padgett. Neal capped the jaunt with another 1-yard touchdown run.
“It was nice to see us establish the run,” Ramunno said. “Guys like Harrison (Neal) were running hard. Trent (Book), John (Crawford), I mean, they all did a good job. We tried to involve a lot of backs tonight. I think they all had some decent runs. We thought going in our offensive line could stay on some blocks, and we could get some stuff going on the outside.”
The Devils wasted little time in scoring their third touchdown in a row. Ramunno called the same play-action pass he used a possession earlier, and Morgan delivered a perfect strike to Padgett for a 47-yard TD to stretch Eagle Valley’s lead to 20-0 in the second quarter.
“The corners were sucking up, thinking run,” Morgan said. “Their safeties playing over the top had no idea it was coming. We’ve been working on it all week in practice. It worked great.”
Morgan finished the game 4-of-7 passing for 141 yards and a touchdown. All of his yards through the air went to Padgett.
“(The touchdown) felt so good,” Padgett said. “It was amazing, especially with Matt Morgan throwing the ball. It was a perfect pass.”
In its three first half scoring drives, Eagle Valley went 89, 86 and 87 yards.
Thrall continued to impose his strength in the second half. Moffat got possession of the ball down 20-7 after the break, but its drive only lasted one play. That’s because Thrall busted through the line and snatched a botched handoff. The senior then did his best running back impersonation, but he was dragged down at the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line.
“I was looking for the touchdown, but I have no experience running the ball whatsoever,” Thrall said.
Eagle Valley quickly took advantage of the field possession when Cody Coulter raced in for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 27-7.
Padgett picked off a Matt Linsacum pass two drives later to again set Eagle Valley up with excellent field position at the Moffat 30-yard line. Ryan McClintock went 16-yard on a reverse to set up a Book 1-yard TD run.
Neal scored Eagle Valley’s last touchdown of the game on a 17-yard gallop.
Defense does its part
Moffat struggled to get anything going against a stout Devils defense Friday. Besides losing three turnovers, Moffat also went three-and-out three times Friday.
The Bulldogs added two late touchdowns in garbage time, but they only managed 269 yards of total offense, 148 of which came on their last two drives. Their only consistent offensive threat was running back Jason Kettle. The junior rushed for 125 yards.
Eagle Valley is on the road next week at Delta.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at email@example.com or at 748-2935.
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