Craig Middle School football box score:
Team First Second Third Fourth OT Final
CMS 0 0 0 0 14 14
Meeker 0 0 0 0 6 6
— Eighth-grade record: 4-0
Team First Second Third Fourth Final
CMS 8 16 16 6 46
Meeker 0 8 0 0 8
— Seventh-grade record: 4-0
Craig Middle School coach Todd Hildebrandt had one thing to say to his players after their game Friday.
“Gentlemen,” he began. “Now that was a football game.”
Hildebrandt’s eighth-grade Bulldogs raised their season record to 4-0 after a nail-biter game against the Meeker Cowboys. The hard-fought game came down to the final moments and beyond, with the 14-6 final score the result of three overtimes.
“I’ve never seen a game go this far into overtime in a middle school game,” Hildebrandt said. “Meeker was a tough team, and they really put up a fight.”
Neither team scored in regulation. The Bulldogs and Cowboys alike spent most of the game at midfield, with each offense rarely moving beyond the 50-yard line.
With the score even at the end of four quarters, the game moved into overtime. Each team had four downs from the 10-yard line to score.
Meeker drew first blood, making the score 6-0.
CMS and quarterback Kearn Gerber answered by running in for a touchdown, tying the score at 6-6.
“It felt great,” Gerber said. “We knew at halftime that we weren’t going to make it if we didn’t get the blocking and get the handoffs right.”
By the third set of downs, the Bulldogs were ready to pull ahead for good, as Danny White dove into the end zone for another touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the team’s defense made sure no Cowboys were scoring, cinching the victory.
Hildebrandt said he preferred having such a game to test his players’ mettle.
“They’re hard-nosed and never quit and we just came out on top,” he said. “I loved this. I’d rather play in a game like this instead of a blowout anytime because it just makes our kids better.”
Hildebrandt wasn’t complaining about the results of an earlier game, either. The seventh-graders set a winning tone in their game against Meeker, defeating the Cowboys 46-8.
The younger Bulldogs were up 16-8 with less than a minute left in the first half when wide receiver Hugo Hernandez pulled in a long pass for a reception of more than 60 yards.
“I wanted to get my team a big lead going into the second half,” he said.
The 24-8 score grew by three more touchdowns in the game’s second half, as the Bulldogs’ defense continued to dominate.
Seventh-grade coach Matt Ray said his team has played solidly all season, with a 4-0 record to match the eighth-graders.
“The Doak Walker program has done a great job of getting these guys ready for this stuff,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of football knowledge and they play real hard. We’ve got Rifle next Saturday, so that’ll be a big test for us. Otherwise, I think we’ve got a good chance of going undefeated.”
Former CMS coach Gary Tague was also on the sidelines during the games.
Tague, who recently retired, received a tribute as part of the season’s last home game — a jersey signed by former players and colleagues.
The number, 34, commemorated his years with the Bulldogs.
“I was kind of shocked, but it was a great gesture,” he said. “These are a great bunch of guys here and I appreciate it very much.”
Tague said he will still be attending games regularly, as well as serving as announcer at Moffat County High School’s games.
“The kids still know me, and the coaches have asked me to be around, and I just still love the game,” he said.