Hot streak continues for Moffat County football headed into league showdown
As the Bulldogs football program celebrates its biggest win of the season, Moffat County players and coaches aren’t breaking out the noisemakers because they know another big challenge is coming up fast.
MCHS took a 48-6 road victory Friday night, Oct. 7, against the Coal Ridge Titans and improved to 5-1 overall. However, Moffat County is due to face the undefeated Basalt Longhorns later this week in a matchup that could decide the conference champion.
The second league win for the Bulldogs and second league loss for the 2-4 Titans started curiously close as MoCo struggled to contain Coal Ridge running back Brandon Short in the first quarter.
After Bulldog quarterback Cort Murphy punched in the opening touchdown early, Short responded with steady progress downfield, eventually crossing the goal line on a big sweep.
The Dogs held the lead for the full game but, for a time, were only ahead by one point. A fumble that led to a turnover also had MCHS coaches wary.
However, the Bulldog defense held for the rest of the night, while senior Evan Atkin made a statement with a 65-yard run for the end zone as the energy stayed on Moffat’s side the remainder of the game.
Atkin ran for 216 yards and scored four TDs including a pass to senior Max Noland that resulted in an improvised lateral back to Atkin that he took in for a score.
Senior Kaden Hixson also had a rushing TD, scoring from 47 yards out, while picking up 56 yards on the ground and 104 receiving yards on four catches in the game.
Leave it to Beaver
The Dogs recording the most passing yards they’ve had this season was a highlight in the Coal Ridge game. Murphy connected on all five of his passing attempts for 129 total yards, and he wasn’t the only quarterback one under center.
Junior Evan Beaver rotated in regularly, completing five of his seven passes for 107 yards and his first varsity TD pass, a 40-yarder to Noland that started a running clock.
“Our whole team did really well in that second half,” Beaver said.
Besides serving as Murphy’s backup, Beaver has been all over the field this fall as a receiver and linebacker, not to mention handling kickoffs and punts.
“When Cort went down, I had to step up,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries this year, and a lot of guys have really been stepping up. They’ve all been great helping each other out and making the play.”
Stop the stampede
On Friday, Oct. 14, Moffat County will take on its most daunting opponent in the Class 2A West League: the Basalt Longhorns.
As the Bulldogs were thrashing the Titans, Basalt moved to 6-0 Friday in Rifle, beating the Bears 22-7.
Though the Longhorns put up respectable numbers, the big difference-maker was on special teams, which added nine points through field goals.
On the same night, both MoCo and Basalt gained two sacks — in the Bulldogs’ case, the combined efforts of Michael Voloshin and Ethan Schaaf and a solo by Zach Hedman — though the Dogs had nearly twice as many tackles in their game, led by Murphy and Aron Aguilar, each with 11.
Basalt also forced an interception against Rifle compared to two by MoCo over Coal Ridge, one each for Johnny Lopez and Bryant Carlson.
Basalt started league play with a 42-6 rout of Grand Valley and this week’s matchup in Craig could decide the conference champion. MCHS head coach Lance Scranton is anticipating one of the closest contests his athletes have faced.
“It’s gonna be a tough game. Both teams are similar with a good running game and complementary passing ability,” he said. “We just hope to keep improving and make the most of our opportunities.”
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