Slow start buries 'Dogs

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GYPSUM -- The fourth quarter belonged to the Moffat County football team, and that was about it in a 27-19 shocking loss to Eagle Valley.

The telltale numbers for the No. 4 in Class 3A Bulldogs were turnovers and turnovers-on-downs. Moffat killed drives with three fumbles, one interception and six failures to convert on fourth down.

"(Eagle Valley) capitalized on turnovers," Moffat coach Kip Hafey said. "When there was a quick change (of possession) we didn't rise to the occasion, and they did several times. We don't turn the ball over, they score once."

The Bulldogs were 2-5 on fourth downs in the first half and 3-9 in the game.

Two of those turnover-on-downs were the initial momentum killers in the game. On the first drive of the game, junior Andrew Drake was stuffed on fourth-and-1 on the Moffat 37-yard line. On the next play, Sean Matheson took the ball to the end zone to give the Devils a quick 7-0 lead.

"It was a struggle from there on in the first half," Hafey said. "Eagle Valley came out ready."

The Bulldogs drove on their next possession all the way to the Eagle Valley 5-yard line, but an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal halted their chance to tie it up.

A Drake interception on Eagle Valley's 21-yard line gave Moffat some more momentum, but a fumble the very next play gave the ball back to the Devils.

The Devils took the ball 58 yards in 3 minutes, 22 seconds and Matheson added another score on a 10-yard run.

Matheson intercepted Duran with 4:31 left in the second quarter.

"We didn't show up the first half and made too many mental mistakes," Duran said. "We were still half-asleep. Maybe we were thinking about last year too much."

If the Bulldogs wanted to send a message at the beginning of the second half, it didn't happen. The Devils drove the ball 80 yards in 3:38. Senior Cody Comerford had a 42-yard run during the drive, and Matheson scored his third touchdown on a 7-yard run.

The fumbles and stumbles kept coming for Moffat on its first possession in the half. A fumbled handoff on Moffat's 35 was recovered by the Devils.

Eagle Valley took advantage of the short field, and Kenny Slaughter finished the drive with a 2-yard run. The point after was no good, but the Bulldogs were looking at a 27-0 hole.

Turnovers were huge," Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno said. "Last year, we gave them, so that kind of evens it out."

Moffat didn't warm up the bus just yet though.

An 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore JT Haddan and an 84-yard strike to Reid Hanneman got them back into the game with just less than four minutes remaining 27-14.

A successful onside kick kept the Bulldogs' hopes alive. Moffat drove to the 6-yard line. The final failure to convert on fourth doomed the Bulldogs. Eagle Valley ran the clock down to two seconds, but it allowed one more possession for Moffat, and Haddan ran it in for a final touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good and the final was set at 27-19.

"Our guys played their butts off the final quarter," Hafey said. "I'm proud of them for that. But we have to play four quarters."

Eagle Valley ran the ball at will most of the night, and most of their yards came attacking the left side of the Bulldog line.

"They picked out personel and went after us," Scranton said. "We have to work that out."

The Devils had 239 yards on 45 carries. Matheson was the leading rusher with 112 yards on 11 runs.

The 84-yard pass play helped boost Duran's passing numbers for the night. He completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards. Duran was also the team's top rusher with 68 yards on 14 carries.

Next up for Moffat County is Steamboat Springs, which defeated Rifle, 14-12, on Friday night.

"This shows our league's the real deal, and we can't overlook anybody," said Bulldog senior Kevin Loughran. "We're not the team we were last year, and we have to step it up if we want to reach our goals."

The first step in stepping it up is stopping the turnovers.

"We have to work on protecting the ball this week," Hafey said. "And we'll definitely talk a lot about showing up for four quarters."

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