PUEBLO -- Keith Lane's Pueblo West High School football team only had played one top 10 ranked team in eight games this season. In his team's 14-9 loss to No. 4 Moffat County, he wasn't that impressed.
"No offense to those guys, but we out-played them tonight," he said. "We've played a lot tougher of teams."
Moffat County coach Kip Hafey wasn't offended.
"The way we played tonight, I wouldn't be surprised if he's seen teams play them tougher," Hafey said. "What's important is that we got away with the win."
A team effort that Hafey called lethargic let the Cyclones stay in the game until the last down. The 2-6 hosts scrapped on defense most of the night to keep an offense that hadn't scored less than 28 points in a game out of the end zone.
"We didn't come off the bus ready," junior tight end and defensive end Kevin Loughran said. "We watched Florence pummel them on tape, so we thought it would be easy to do the same."
The only time that pummel can be used to describe the Bulldogs' play is when Loughran and his fellow defensive ends collapsed on Pueblo West quarterback Zak Gallegos. The ends forced Gallegos to fumble the ball three times with hard hits.
"Our new scheme lets us go after the quarterback, and it worked well tonight," Loughran said. "It was a lot of fun."
The defense made up for a struggling offense. A first-half shutout included a goal-line stand that stuffed the Cyclones on the one-yard line.
In the second half, the Bulldogs only allowed two first downs. Gallegos put the home team ahead in the fourth quarter with a one-yard plunge, but that drive was sustained by two, 15-yard penalties for Moffat County.
Things were not looking good for the visitors after the Cyclones earned a safety for intentional grounding in the end zone, and a touchdown, to go up 9-8 with 8 minutes, 5 seconds left in the game. The offense hadn't been able to move the ball the whole second half, and two starters, running back/linebacker Kellan Moore and center Blake Kawcak, were sitting with injuries.
An 80-yard, 3:15 drive gave the Bulldogs the lead back. Scott Garoutte scored his second touchdown on the night with a one-yard run. The missed two-point conversion left the Bulldogs with a 14-9 lead.
"We were sluggish," senior lineman Jerry DesJardains said. "But when we needed the big drive, we got out and did it."
After the offense re-earned the lead, the defense took over again.
Kyle Rader forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The offense was unable to score after a personal foul made it fourth-and-goal from the 18. Two plays later, Loughran hit Gallegos for his second sack/forced fumble of the night.
The offense gave West another opportunity when senior Daniel Tague fumbled on the 15-yard line.
Tague made up for it on the next defensive stand when he hit the quarterback and forced another fumble.
West received the ball back but couldn't move it.
The Bulldogs went in at halftime with an 8-0 lead and with a lot of frustration. Things didn't change much the second half when things that had worked all year on offense didn't.
The Bulldogs held the Cyclones to 157 yards of offense. They only had 40 yards in the second half.
The offense tallied 249 yards; all but 12 of those were on the ground. Tague and Garoutte each had 85 yards, while Pike scrambled for 52.
"We are too good of a team to have a game like this," Loughran said. "It was ugly, but still a W, yet we need to get back on the practice field and get better."
The Bulldogs improved to 8-1 and will finish off the regular season with Montezuma-Cortez at home.