Offense first half. Defense second half. That's what it took for the Moffat County High School football team to win its first legitimate test of the season Friday, taking out Glenwood Springs, 33-20.
"We had our backs to the wall early," Moffat County coach Kip Hafey said.
"But we showed a complete team effort to come back and get the win." The Bulldogs trailed 13-0 with 10 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the second quarter. They scored 26 unanswered points in the second quarter to take the air out of the Demon homecoming crowd and their team. "We had them down and could have put it away, but we couldn't maintain," Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth said. "Moffat made the big plays and climbed back in."
In the first half, Moffat's junior quarterback Derek Duran couldn't miss.
Duran was eight-for-eight for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldog passing attack didn't catch a rhythm until they already had spotted the home team two touchdowns.
In the first quarter, the Demons recovered a fumbled snap on Moffat's 48-yard line. On the next play, Glenwood's Adam Vincent caught a halfback pass on the 35 and took it home.
The Bulldogs looked to be driving for the tying score at the end of the first quarter when the Demon defense stopped them on fourth-and-one at the 23.
Another big pick-up by Vincent, a 43-yard catch and run, set up a 6-yard touchdown run by the tough-to-tackle No. 21 and the No. 10 team in Class 3A was thinking upset.
"It was frustrating because we felt like we had him wrapped up at the line of the scrimmage most of the night," Hafey said. "He was a talented back."
Moffat County's Tyler Pike showed why the Bulldogs are ranked as high as third in the state on the next play. He ran the kickoff 84 yards to Glenwood's 9-yard line.
The Demons stuffed the Bulldogs three straight times, setting up fourth-and-16. Duran found senior Daniel Tague at the 9-yard line and the receiver wrestled through a tackler and dove into the end zone with 8:54 left in the half.
Vincent appeared to put his team back up on the ensuing kickoff with a 92-yard touchdown run, but it was called back because of a holding penalty.
The penalty would turn into a 14-yard swing. Moffat linebacker Kellan Moore recovered a fumble three plays later on the Glenwood 38. Five plays later, Moore was rewarded for his defense with a 10-yard scoring run. In a matter of six minutes the game had gone from a Demon demolition to 14-13 led for the visitors.
The Bulldogs kicked away from Vincent on the next kick, and one play later, the Bulldogs grabbed another fumble on the Demons' 38. Less than two minutes later, Scott Garoutte powered into the end zone to give the 'Dogs a 20-13 lead. The point after was blocked.
The Demons weren't done turning over the ball in the second quarter. The second play from scrimmage on the next drive, Jared Lowther picked off a Eric Lundin pass on the 16-yard line. Duran hit a wide open Tague in the end zone one play later to put the Bulldogs up, 26-13. Until last week, Tague had been quiet for the Bulldogs on offense. The past two games he has scored four times. Friday night, he had six receptions for 80 yards.
"They didn't need me yet," he said. "It feels good to be contributing, but better to win."
Duran said Tague and his other receivers were open the first half. "They were bringing the safeties up to stop the run," he said. "It opened us up quite a bit."
Whitworth said the plan all along was to stop the run. "We aim to stop the run," he said. "We knew they could probably throw, but we wanted them to prove it."
Duran finished 14-of-22 for a season-high 208 yards. In the second half, Glenwood sent everybody at Duran, and he and the offense struggled.
A failed fake punt, an interception and another poor punt gave the Demons field position on Moffat's 19-, 31- and 35-yard lines in the third quarter. The Bulldog defense held for two of the three series but couldn't stop the Demons in the middle series. On fourth-and-goal, Pat Reardon scored with 3:37 left to get Glenwood within a touchdown, 26-20. Neither team scored the rest of the third quarter and through the first six minutes of the fourth.
With 5:55 left, Glenwood started a drive from its 10-yard line. They drove into Moffat territory but on fourth-and-13 Lowther snagged his second interception of the night and ran it to the Glenwood 41. The 'Dogs drove the 41 yards on two plays. Garoutte broke four or five tackles and the Demons' hopes on a 14-yard rumble to the end zone. With the score 32-20 with 1:54 left, the game was basically over. Just as the offense carried the Bulldogs the first half and the defense the second, turnovers hurt the Demons in the first and penalties in the second.
The homecoming team was penalized 10 times for 87 yards. "We had one series where we only went 20 yards in 10 plays," Whitworth said. "Moffat has to feel pretty good about their chances of running the table now."
Hafey was cautious to say that the league was his teams, but he did like what he saw.
"I think we sent a message," he said. "We scored 32 on a defense that hadn't given up more than 14."
The Bulldogs had 307 yards on offense, and Glenwood was able to compile 394. Vincent dodged and dipped his way to 255 yards of offense. The Bulldogs only had 106 yards on offense in the second half, but the 41 yards in the touchdown drive made the difference. Next week, Moffat County (6-0) will host the No. 1 team in Class 3A, Palisade.