MCHS football falls to Evergreen, 26-22, in zero-week game |

MCHS football falls to Evergreen, 26-22, in zero-week game

Ben Bulkeley

Moffat County High School football team captains, Angelo "Hodge" Raftopoulos, left, C.J. Walt, middle left, Casey Martin, middle right, and Brady Conner, right, walk back to the sideline at halftime of the season opener against Evergreen High School on Friday at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. The Bulldogs fell to the Cougars, 26-22.
Shawn McHugh

Score at a glance

Moffat County High School versus Evergreen High School — score by quarter:

Team First 2nd 3rd 4th Final

Evergreen 0 14 6 6 26

Moffat County 15 0 7 0 22

For a while, the Moffat County High School varsity football team looked like it could do no wrong.

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Playing Friday night at home against the Evergreen High School Cougars, the Bulldogs scored an early touchdown and added a safety to take a 9-0 lead into the second quarter.

Then, the momentum changed, coach Kip Hafey said.

"We had it, then they took it right back from us," he said. "We were able to get it early, then they had the momentum and kept it."

Although the Bulldogs led for most of the game, the Cougars rallied in the fourth quarter, and won, 26-22.

The Bulldogs (0-1 overall, 0-0 in the Western Slope League) were able to rely on their defense early.

Senior linebacker CJ Walt recovered an Evergreen fumble at the Cougars' 22-yard line. On the very next play, sophomore quarterback Bubba Ivers connected with senior tight end Brady Conner, who had to fight and smash his way into the end zone for six points with five minutes and 20 seconds left in the quarter.

Walt would tackle Evergreen's punter in the end zone on their ensuing possession for a safety to put MCHS up, 9-0.

With 23 seconds left in the first quarter, Ivers would again find Conner for a 12-yard touchdown and a 15-0 Bulldog lead.

"We started off firing," Hafey said. "Things were clicking for us, then they got us with a trick play."

The trick play was a fake sweep, and the Evergreen running back threw the ball to 48 yards to wide receiver Kevin Cassell to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 15-7 with 11 minutes and two seconds remaining in the second quarter.

"That was when the momentum really shifted," Hafey said. "They were able to come back strong. That's what makes high school football so great."

Evergreen would receive a punt deep in Bulldogs territory, and used the good field position to their advantage.

Cougars running back Sean O'Donnell blasted his way up the middle for a one-yard touchdown run with one minute and 20 seconds remaining in the half to get Evergreen within one, 15-14.

An Evergreen fumble recovery with 40 seconds left on the MCHS 32-yard line made it look like the Cougars would be able to take the lead going into halftime, but the Evergreen receivers had trouble reeling in passes.

The Cougars set up for a 44-yard field goal, but Moffat County's Steven Wagner blocked it to end the half.

On the opening kick of the third quarter, the Evergreen kick returner fumbled, and Moffat County's Mason Updike was able to recover near midfield.

Junior Bulldogs quarterback Wes Chapman was able to connect with Conner on a 28-yard pass that put MCHS at the Evergreen two-yard line.

Updike again aided MCHS, following Conner's reception with a two-yard run for a touchdown to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 22-14 with 10 minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the Cougars weren't going to give away the momentum easily.

With five minutes and 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Cassell again caught a touchdown pass — this one a 26-yard reception. The resulting two-point conversion failed, and Evergreen was within two, 22-20.

The two sides would trade long drives and defensive stands until nine minutes and 55 seconds remained in the game.

O'Connell ran in from one yard out to put the Cougars up for good, 26-22.

MCHS would again threaten late in the game, but with 40 seconds left on the clock, an interception by Evergreen's Sam Keen effectively ended the game.

Ivers would go 7 for 12 for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and Chapman went 1 for 1 for 28 yards. Ivers would also break out a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Junior defensive tackle Dario Georgiou would record a sack and seven tackles, but he said the Bulldogs need to do more in they want to be successful Sept. 3 in Aspen.

"On offense, we have to hold our blocks," he said. "On defense, we have to stop standing up."

The Bulldogs were playing in a zero-week game, which is scheduled a week before the rest of the league steps onto the field.

Having little practice time and such a young team (MCHS returned four started on both offense and defense; Evergreen returned nine on both sides of the ball) affected how the Bulldogs played, Georgiou said.

"Normally, we have two to two-and-a-half weeks of practice time, not one week," he said. "We also have a bunch of guys starting for the first time."

But, Hafey said the Bulldogs will be ready for Aspen.

"We have to be able to take care of teams and put them away," he said. "We'll really have to shut down the running game — Aspen has a running back who ran for over 2,000 yards last season."

Score at a glance

Moffat County High School versus Evergreen High School — score by quarter:

Team First 2nd 3rd 4th Final

Evergreen 0 14 6 6 26

Moffat County 15 0 7 0 22

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