If there was any doubt that Meeker is the No. 1 team in the 1A Western Slope League, it was put to rest Friday night when the Cowboys handed the hometown Paonia Eagles a 31-14 loss. For the Eagles it was their first conference loss and second overall loss of the season.
For undefeated Meeker, the win means a second straight 1A Western Slope conference title. Meeker, the reigning state runners up, remains No. 2 in state standings behind Bennett.
The Cowboys functioned like a well-oiled machine, scoring touchdowns in each of the four quarters while holding the Eagles to their shortest running game of the season.
It was little consolation to the Eagles that they scored twice the points on the Cowboys than they have allowed any of their opponents this season. Senior quarterback Caden Meilner threw for 33 yards and with 15 carries and 85 yards was the Eagles' lead rusher.
Jaden Miller had 23 carries for 80 yards, marking his shortest running game of the season.
Cowboys third-year starting quarterback Logan Hughes completed 12 of 14 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Doak Mantle had 12 carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
On its opening possession Meeker capped a 65-yard drive on a three-yard TD run by Mantle.
Paonia responded with a 75-yard scoring drive that began late in the first period and ended in the second on a one-yard carry by Miller.
Meeker opened the second period on a touchdown pass from Hughes to Stephen Walsh. Trailing 16-7, Paonia took possession at its own 45-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the half, but ended the half on two incomplete passes and a failed 44-yard field goal attempt.
In the third, Hughes opened with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Trapper Merrifield, and zeroed in on Eli Hanks for the two-point conversion and a 24-7 lead.
Paonia started the fourth quarter with a 68-yard scoring drive.
Late in the fourth period Meeker capped a 75-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Mantle and a PAT with 19 seconds remaining in the game.
Paonia's 6-2, 3-1 record puts it in second place in the 1A Western Slope conference with one game remaining in regulation play. The Eagles travel Friday to Parachute where they'll face Grand Valley. The Cardinals (2-6, 0-4) are coming off of a 9-6 loss to Cedaredge.