Eagle Valley holds off Central, 19-18, to make playoffs
Warriors 0 12 0 6 — 18
Devils 0 7 12 0 — 19
G - Erminio Barrera, 1 run, run failed, 9:59
G - Barrera to Noah Gaylon, 31 pass, run failed, 5:57
E - Garrett Martin to Matthew Sanchez, 10 pass, Palacios kick, 0:23
E - Kyle Williams, 5 run, Palacios KNG, 7:54
E - Jay Neal, 1 run, pass failed, 2:52
G - Barrera, 1 run,run failed, 7:30
GYPSUM — Welcome to the playoffs, Eagle Valley.
Junior Corben Funk intercepted his third pass of the evening with less than a minute to go in the game against Grand Junction Central to preserve the Devils’ 19-18 win over the Warriors on Friday night at John Ramunno Field in Gypsum.
Eagle Valley, ranked No. 13 in the CHSAA wild-card points going into Friday’s game, doubtless stabilized its position within the top 16. What’s more, the Devils earned their seventh win, which is generally considered a lead-pipe cinch for postseason play. Central finishes the season at 5-5, a big improvement from 2014’s 1-9 mark, but short of the playoffs.
Eagle Valley will get its draw on chsaa.org on Sunday. It’s the Devils’ second playoff appearance in as many years, noteworthy particularly because of the change of head coaches from John Ramunno to Tom LaFramboise during the offseason.
And that made for a very happy Senior Night for the Devils.
Eagle Valley erased a 12-7 first half deficit in the third quarter with a revival of its ground game, dormant during the first two quarters. Jay Neal popped a big 22-yard run, and fellow back Kyle Williams scored from 5 yards out. Ahead 13-12, the Devils’ Tiegan Torbett recorded a big sack of Central quarterback Erminio Barrera. That set up what would be the Devils’ critical third touchdown.
Eagle Valley quarterback Garrett Martin fired a 30-yard pass to Marc Williams. Martin was skillful with the snap count on that drive, drawing the Warriors offside. Neal plunged in from 1 yard for a 19-12 advantage.
The Devils struggled offensively for most of the half. That said, the Eagle Valley defense was up to the task, producing three turnovers in the first 24 minutes, and six in all for the game. A Matthew Sanchez interception halted Central’s first drive. The Devils’ Charlie Fessenden batted away a pass to put the breaks on another Warriors drive.
Central proved that turnaround is fair play. Warriors linebacker Weston Holdren came up with a fumble, setting up his team’s first score. Barrera hooked up twice with Noah Gaylon, bringing the Warriors to the Devils’ 1. Barrera called his own number for a 6-0 lead.
Later in the second quarter, Eagle Valley tried an end-around on a fourth-and-13 from its own 40. Central snuffed that out and needed only two plays — both Barrera to Gaylon — to make it 12-0.
Prompted by Funk’s second pick of the half, the Devils offense awoke with a 40-yard strike from Martin to Fessenden. Martin hit Sanchez with a 10-yard pass to the end zone, cutting Central’s lead to 12-7.
Eagle Valley’s senior class includes Fessenden, Aldo Palacios, Oscar Gallegos, Lane Dobransky, Cole Harper, Wyatt Borah, Neal, Oscar Rubin, Tye Harris, Juan Toscano, Bryce Muehlethaler, Williams and Brooke Stone.