The Bulldogs are learning that wins in the 1A Western Slope Conference are hard to come by.
The Hotchkiss High School football team twice led the game in the early stages but gave up too many big plays as the visiting Grand Valley Cardinals beat the Bulldogs 36-19 last Friday night.
The Cardinals (5-2, 2-1 WSC) exploded for 24 points in the second quarter and held on for the win.
Hotchkiss took the opening kickoff and proceeded to reel off a nine-plus minute drive in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs were stopped by a Cardinals' goal line stand and Hotchkiss was turned away with no points.
The home team got on the board first shortly after the second quarter started. Colton DeLuzio threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Devan Curtis to put Hotchkiss ahead. It would end up being the only completed pass of the game for the Bulldogs.
The visitors responded with a touchdown run of six yards, then the Bulldogs answered right back with Wade Katzdorn's seven-yard scoring burst that brought the score to 13-8 for Hotchkiss.
But then a combination of bad luck, missed tackles and a slippery quarterback ended up dooming the Bulldogs.
Late in the second quarter, Grand Valley quarterback Jeff Holbrook took the snap, ran sideline to sideline, then somehow weaved his way 67 yards down the field for an improbable touchdown run.
Holbrook quite possibly made all 11 Hotchkiss defenders miss at least one tackle on the play.
The Bulldogs, still reeling from the big play, promptly turned over the football on their next possession.
Holbrook struck again, this time a 42-yard touchdown scamper as time expired.
Grand Valley converted all three of its 2-point conversions in the quarter and was ahead for good 24-13 at halftime.
The Cardinals produced 350 yards of total offense while the Bulldogs were held to 136 yards.
Hotchkiss committed three turnovers and Grand Valley had one.
The Cardinals out-rushed the Bulldogs 267-133 and Grand Valley enjoyed a 13-9 advantage in first downs.
Katzdorn finished with 96 rushing yards off 25 carries. Colton Peebles ripped off a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter to provide the Bulldogs last score.
Hotchkiss lost its third game in a row, falling to 3-4, and is 0-3 in conference play.
The Bulldogs are at Olathe, for a contest against the Pirates, on Friday night at 7 p.m.