Saints bury Nederland to remain unbeaten
GYPSUM — The Vail Christian Saints’ defense showed Nederland why it’s called the Blue Crush.
When it was over, the Saints marched to a 48-12 win over the Nederland Panthers and a 3-0 record.
Nederland didn’t pick up a first down until the first minute of the second half, which was followed immediately by two Saints sacks and an interception by Clayton Davis.
After the two teams swapped licks for the first few minutes, Vail Christian’s Mike Lange’s 50-yard punt return put the Saints on the board. The ball bounced 15 yards short of him and everyone in the stadium was shouting for him to leave it alone, but the thing about football stadiums is that it’s hard to hear specific instructions when you’re wearing a helmet and your heart’s beating in your ears.
He picked it up like a shortstop and broke three tackles on his way straight up the middle for the touchdown and the rout was underway.
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At 9:54 left in the second quarter, Lange scored on an 18-yard quarterback keeper up the middle. Davis added the two-point conversion that made it 16-0.
Nederland fumbled the kickoff and when the ball carrier picked it up, Davis drilled him.
That pinned Nederland at its own 5-yard line, and two plays later Max Schramm’s interception put the Saints back in business at Nederland’s 12-yard line. Sug Ellsworth pounded it 11 yards to the 1-yard line, and Lange scored on a keeper one play later.
After Nederland suffered a penalty and two sacks, on fourth-and-18, Vail Christian’s Ethan Kuhns intercepted a Nederland pass to shut down the Panthers.
Nederland did complete a pass with 10 seconds left in the half, but the Saints’ Davis stripped the ball and broke free and was headed toward the end zone. The refs blew the play dead as he crossed into Nederland territory. The penalty, however, turned out to be against Nederland, which means the play should have been allowed to continue.
Or maybe it was offsetting penalties, but the Panthers took the hit for it and took that long 10-yard penalty stroll.
If it were a Saints’ penalty, it would have been their 13th of the first half, which still ended with a 24-0 Saints lead.
Midway through the third, a couple carries by Ellsworth and Lange took the Saints to the one-yard line, and Ellsworth pounded a pair of Panthers at the goal line for the touchdown and a 32-0 lead.
Nederland finally got on the board with two minutes left in the third quarter when Christian McClain capped a 52-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.
On the kickoff, though, Vail Christian’s Davis left the Nederland defense, running 85 yards for the touchdown. After yet another penalty, Ellsworth punched in the two-point conversion from 18 yards out, 40-6 Saints.
Ellsworth added another a few minutes later, and Nederland’s Quin Kuchenmeister caught an 18-yard pass from Michael Wood for the 48-12 final.
Ellsworth led the Saints offense with 175 yards on 24 carries, two touchdowns and a pair of two point conversions.
Lange added 50 yards rushing on seven carries and two touchdowns. He completed one pass for 18 yards on a two-point conversion to Max Schramm.
The Saints were whistled for 16 penalties.
On defense, Vail Christian’s Alex Davis had three sacks for losses of 32 yards. Ellsworth had 8.5 tackles, and Max Schramm had a sack and an interception to go with his seven tackles. Clayton Davis had five tackles and an interception, and freshman Ethan Kuhns had 5.5 tackles and an interception.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.