It was billed as a potentially big game in the 1A WSL. Hotchkiss, rated fourth in state rankings a week ago, was unable to keep up with Cedaredge's pace late in the game and found themselves in a position they have not been in very often.
Trailing by one in the fourth quarter, Hotchkiss resorted to a passing attack that simply was not effective against the Bruins' pressure defense.
An interception by Austin Gartman on a halfback pass from Jacobe Galley all but sealed the deal for Cedaredge. Gartman returned the ball 16 yards to Hotchkiss' 49. After 13 plays and two touchdowns called back on penalties, the Bruins lost the ball on downs at Hotchkiss' 10-yard line.
Despite a two-touchdown night for Galley and nearly 200 yards of rushing, the Bulldogs just couldn't come up with a score late in the game.
Mickey Madaleno took the opening kickoff at his own five-yard line and took it to the Bruins' 35 to start Cedaredge's first offensive possession. First-down runs of 15 and 10 yards from Dante Markley and Carter Wasser got the ball inside Hotchkiss' 25. Three plays later, Markley hit Kyle Ward for 20 yards and the game's first score with 8:56 left in the opening quarter. Alejandro Alejandro kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Bruin lead.
Hotchkiss' first possession on offense began at its own 48. The Bulldogs moved the ball to Cedaredge's 32 where they bogged down and elected to go for the first down on a fourth down play. A penalty against the Bulldogs moved the ball back five yards forcing Hotchkiss to punt the ball away.
Each team had two more possessions in the first quarter with neither scoring points. Cedaredge led 7-0 going to the second stanza.
The Bulldogs were in possession at quarter's end and continued their drive into the second period. A Josh Hardin pass was picked off three plays into the period but was nullified on a Bruin pass interference penalty that gave Hotchkiss a first down at the Bruin 34. Galley scampered into the end zone from two yards out to culminate a 70-yard drive that took 22 plays. Galley's PAT kick tied the score at 7-7 with 1:58 left in the first half.
Cedaredge was hampered by penalties on its next possession and was forced to settle for a halftime score of 7-7.
Galley sparked the Bulldogs with a 48-yard second-half kickoff return to the Bruins' 37-yard line. The first play from scrimmage went to Trenton Tamayo who rumbled through the middle of Cedaredge's defense for 37 yards and a score. Galley's kick failed, leaving the Bulldogs ahead 13-7 with 11:44 left in the third quarter.
The ensuing kickoff from Galley went to Madaleno at the five-yard line. Madaleno weaved his way out to the Bruins' 45 where Cedaredge began its first series on offense following halftime.
Markley hit Madaleno for 12 yards and a first down at the Bulldogs' 30. Four plays later, Cade Wasser hauled in a Markley aerial for a 13-yard scoring strike. Alejandre's PAT kick failed, leaving the score tied at 13-13 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs began their next series of downs from their own 35. A run to the 44 set up a Galley scoring jaunt that covered the remaining 44 yards. Colton Farmer kicked the extra point and Hotchkiss held a 20-13 lead.
Reid Gates took the ensuing kickoff at his own five and danced his way to the Bruins' 37 for Cedaredge's next starting spot. Markley hit Cade Wasser and Gates for 15- and 21-yard receptions to move the ball to Hotchkiss' 22.
The Bruins lost five yards on a play that had the officials and chain gang confused. What was thought to be a first down near the 20-yard line was eventually ruled not a first down. The ball was spotted five yards back from where it was supposed to be marked, making the Bruins' fourth-down play a fourth-and-six instead of a fourth-and-less than one. Fortunately for Cedaredge, Markley rectified the call with a 25-yard option run for a touchdown. A two-point conversion was completed with a Markley to Cade Wasser pass to give Cedaredge the lead at 21-20 with just 3:22 left in the game.
Hotchkiss had the ball at its own 48 as the third quarter ended.
A holding penalty was whistled against the Bulldogs to start the fourth period. Galley tried his halfback option pass on the next play and was intercepted by Gartman.
Cedaredge took over at the Hotchkiss 49 and moved the ball to the 10 before the flags began falling.
Markley skirted his left end for an apparent touchdown that was nullified on a 15-yard penalty that moved the ball back to the 25. Two plays later, the Bruins had the ball at the 10 once again. This time, Markley threw a 10-yard scoring strike to Cade Wasser. The play was nullified on a five-yard procedure penalty that pushed the ball back to the 15.
Cedaredge was stopped short of a first down at the five to end the scoring threat.
The Bulldogs moved the ball to their 27 before losing it on downs.
Cedaredge was able to hold the ball for the remainder of the game to win a crucial 1A WSL contest 21-20.
A conversation with head coach Brandon Milholland began with his quote, "You couldn't have scripted it any better could you?"
When asked what were the biggest keys to his team's success in the game, Milholland was quick with his answer. "We had guys down with injuries and other guys stepped up to take their places. It was a big game for everyone and everyone pulled together. I've been coaching for 10 years and this is the first time a group of guys have pulled together with a total team concept. They are not selfish. Part of our success is the extra things we did in the summer. These guys are totally committed."
A visibly dejected Hotchkiss coach, Zac Lemon, had a response to what he felt the difference in the game was. "They were more physical than we were. We just didn't match their physicallity. Late in the game we (staff) also noticed there was a lack of emotional intensity."
Cedaredge, ranked sixth last week, outgained the Bulldogs 360-286 offensively. Markley was 13-21 passing with 130 yards and two touchdowns. He also toted the ball eight times for 107 yards of rushing offense.
Josh Hardin completed just one pass in seven attempts for five yards and Galley was 0-1.
In the rushing department, Carter Wasser was close behind Markley with 17 carries and 90 yards while Gates had 39 yards on 14 carries.
Galley was the game's leading ground gainer with 190 yards on 25 carries. Tamayo was next for the Bulldogs with 76 yards and 10 totes. Hardin ran the ball six times for 15 yards.
Defensively, Conner Beard had 13 solo tackles and five assists for the Bulldogs. Teammates Dustin Head and Galley had 12 solo and six assists and 10 and 1 postings respectively.
Randy Brown, principal at Cedaredge Middle School, noted that the last time a Bruins' football team had scored a victory over Hotchkiss might have been the 2002 season.
For those who missed this contest, it truly was a hard-played and closely-contested battle.
Conversations with both coaches prior to the game noted the concerns for their opponents. From coach Lemon, "We're concerned most for their team speed. They might have a little more than we do, but we may have them up front. It's going to be a battle."
Even though coach Milholland appeared confident, he had concerns about the Bulldogs' past record. "They have been in big games and know how to handle themselves under pressure. They are well-coached and highly competitive."
Both were correct in their thoughts and the fans had the honor of watching an outstanding high school football game under the lights on a Friday night.
Cedaredge is at Carbondale to face the Roaring Fork Rams on Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Hotchkiss is also on the road for an encounter with the Lake County Panthers in Leadville on Friday at 7 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus