With less than a minute left in the Moffat County High School varsity football game Friday night, sophomore quarterback Bubba Ivers was calm.
Even with his team down, 20-19, against the visiting John F. Kennedy High School Commanders, Ivers said the Bulldogs were trying to remain “calm, composed and relaxed.”
In the ensuing drive after a Kennedy touchdown and a short sprinkler delay, Ivers found junior wingback Miguel Molina, who gutted out several yards after the play to get the Bulldogs into Commander territory.
“He’s quick,” Ivers said. “I knew that if I dumped it to him, he would get the yards.”
With a fresh set of downs, it was Ivers using his legs to get the Bulldogs even closer.
“I was running, just looking for some open field,” he said. “I was trying to score.”
With 43 seconds remaining in the game, Ivers found senior tight end Brady Conner with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
“Once I saw him get open, I knew it was in,” Ivers said. “We’ve been working on making quicker reads (in practice). They bit on the play-action and we got it in.”
The ensuing two-point conversion pass from Ivers to junior fullback Mason Updike was good, and the Bulldogs led, 27-20.
A Zach Raftopoulos fumble recovery on the kickoff sealed the Bulldogs’ first win of the season.
Senior linebacker and guard CJ Walt said both sides carried the Bulldogs (1-2 overall, 0-0 in the Western Slope League).
“We were pretty good on offense and defense,” he said. “No one side won the game for us — it was true team effort.”
The Bulldog defense was especially effective in the first half.
In addition to holding the Commanders scoreless, MCHS only allowed two first downs in the first half.
Moffat County opened the scoring with three minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Running a power formation, center and linebacker Angelo “Hodge” Raftopoulos was inserted as the MCHS running back.
The six foot tall, 210-pound Raftopoulos was able to rumble forward from two yards out to give MCHS the early 7-0 lead.
As the second quarter opened, Kennedy was forced to punt.
As the ball was snapped, the Kennedy punter muffed the ball, and as he recovered, Walt was there to tackle him on the Commanders 10-yard line.
Less than a minute later, junior halfback Braeden Sullivan did some power running of his own to score a touchdown from two yards out, as the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 13-0.
Kennedy was able to get back into the game in the third quarter.
With eight minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the third, Commander running back Kyle Trinidad had a 10-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 13-7.
Three minutes later, quarterback Braden Miltenberger found wide receiver Kiko Zarate for a 60-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 13.
Sullivan scored his second touchdown of the game 14 seconds into the fourth quarter, this time a 5-yard run.
The two-point conversion failed, but the Bulldogs led, 19-13.
With two minutes remaining in the game, the Bulldogs tried for a field goal that clanked off the right post, onto the crossbar and back onto the field to keep the score at 19-13.
With one and a half minutes remaining, Zarate again found the end zone to put the Commanders up, 20-19.
But, the Bulldogs weren’t about to give up, Walt said.
“We fought hard the entire time,” he said. “In the end, the offense pulled through for us. They put us in line to win.”
Ivers said the last drive of the game couldn’t have been completed if it wasn’t for the five players in front of him.
“I have to give credit to my line,” he said. “I couldn’t get anywhere without them.”