Bulldog football on a roll

The Bulldogs made a statement Friday night against the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers.

The statement was a three-touchdown third quarter that gave Moffat County a 34-19 win.

"We told the boys at the end, 'This is called a winning streak,'" Bulldog coach Kip Hafey said.

First quarter

Things got off to a slow start for the Bulldogs, who were forced to punt on their opening drive.

Cortez got the ball and drove deep into Moffat County territory, but Brice Boling picked off the pass from Panther quarterback Darren Wayman.

It was Boling's third interception in a week, and it set up a 13-play scoring drive by the Bulldogs.

Senior running back Nick Navratil set up the score by taking the ball 11 yards to the 2-yard line. The ensuing play -- a handoff by quarterback Andrew Drake -- put Navratil in the end zone and gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 1 minute and 13 seconds left in the quarter.

A few seconds later, Moffat County kicked off and sent the ball to the 4-yard line, but the explosive speed of return specialist and tailback Tim Halper quickly silenced the cheering Bulldogs. Halper ran for 96 yards and into the end zone for six points. Moffat County senior Blake Kawcak got a hand on the point-after attempt and left Moffat County in the lead, 7-6.

Second quarter

The second quarter got ugly fast. Two plays in, Drake fumbled on the 50-yard line and returned Cortez's quick strike offense to the field.

Two plays later, Moffat County returned the favor and recovered a Cortez fumble, which set the Bulldogs up on their own 45-yard line.

The drive, which chopped four minutes off the clock, was cut short. On fourth-and-four from the 7-yard line, Navratil came up 2 yards shy of the first down. The Panthers capitalized on the shortcoming -- Darren Wayman completed an 81-yard pass to Halper for a 13-7 lead.

The Bulldogs headed to the locker room to regain their composure.

"When the coaches say something's got to happen, something's got to happen," junior Travis Wilson said.

Third quarter

With the kickoff heading to Cortez, the Bulldogs' defense knew it had to remain tough. At 5:52, Navratil ran the ball into the end zone, pulling the Bulldogs back to their feet.

"Our intensity in the second half was through the roof," Navratil said.

Two minutes later, the Bulldogs, behind Navratil, again found the end zone after holding the Panthers to four downs.

A bad series by Cortez left the Panthers stranded at their own 23-yard line on their ensuing possession, and a bad snap put the ball on their 1-yard line. Moffat County took over, and a second later, J.T. Haddan was celebrating a touchdown and a 28-13 Bulldog advantage. With just 1:25 left in the quarter, Hafey called for an onside kick.

"We call it 'Wheels' onside," Hafey said.

The play is meant for senior Sam Wheeldreyer, whom Hafey considers the fastest man on his team.

"It's a one-guy show," Hafey said. "His job is to beat their linemen to the ball."

The play worked, and Moffat County recovered the kick to start another drive. This time, as the clock expired in the quarter, the Bulldogs were feeling secure.

"You could see that play suck the life out of Cortez," Hafey said.

Fourth quarter

Big plays had cost them before, and the Bulldogs weren't about to let that happen again, as they chewed up time and built their lead on a 46-yard reverse to Wheeldreyer for the 34-13 lead.

The Panthers continued to make plays, but none was big enough, and a slew of penalties kept the Panthers at bay.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Cortez coach Tom Adair said. "We got hammered with penalties that killed us."

The Panthers tried to mount a come back, but the hole they dug was too deep.

"We had opportunities," Adair said. "And we kept fighting until the end."

The Bulldogs remained steady and patient throughout the quarter, but the Panthers would score again. A pass from Wayman to Halper put the score at 34-19.

Hafey was pleased that his team executed its game plan.

"It was a great second half," Hafey said. "We had some letdowns in the first half, but we overcame them. Our seniors stepped up tonight."

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