Moffat County football picks up road win against Ridge View Academy
A few too many instances of butterfingers was hard to miss Saturday, but nevertheless, it didn’t define the latest game for Moffat County High School football.
MCHS brought its season to 1-1 during an afternoon game at Watkins’ Ridge View Academy, which brought about the first Bulldog win of the year at 25-8.
The fourth consecutive victory against the Rams began almost immediately in the Dogs’ favor when less than two minutes into the game Moffat County quarterback Colby Beaver threaded the needle to receiver Cale Scranton, who took off and couldn’t be caught, ultimately picking up 51 yards on the catch and six points to boot, plus the two-point conversion rush by Alex Nevarez.
Ridge View was quickly forced to punt as they took over the ball, and the resultant drive ended in the Dogs’ first field goal since 2015 as new kicker Axeel Mendoza split the uprights from 25 yards.
Moffat County coach Keith Gille said Mendoza, whose experience is mostly in soccer, has been a great add this fall.
“Coach (Rusty) Cox has been great sharing kids, and Axeel’s doing a tremendous job,” he said. “He was kicking 45 yards in warm-ups, and as long as we block for him, that adds a whole new dimension for us.”
Down 11-0, the Rams again had to punt, but determined carries by Nevarez and Dominic Pascetti, both seniors, put Moffat County back in Ridge View territory near the end of the first quarter, while a successful 18-yard catch by Connor Etzler early in the second period kept the drive alive and ultimately got the boys in white and blue into the red zone.
Pascetti finished the effort with a 13-yard touchdown run right at the 10-minute mark, though he was denied the conversion, making it 17-0.
Maybe it was the fear of a shutout, maybe it was a mishap that happened to go their way, but a faulty snap during the Rams’ third punt attempt of the game caught Moffat County players off-guard as the home team opted to run for it rather than kick, turning the play into a 61-yard TD, also earning the following two points to make it 17-8.
Ridge View tried their luck with an onside kick to build momentum, but the Moffat County return team was wide awake, with Kameron Baker right on top of the ball to deny the Rams the recovery.
The Bulldog offense had little time to get moving, however, as a fumbled snap resulted in a turnover, one of eight instances on the day the Dogs lost the ball — three of which ultimately reverted back to the Rams — though neither team could make much happen as halftime drew near.
Though turnovers are a concern, Gille credited the fumbles to heat and sweat from the afternoon sun.
“Hot day, must have been about 94 degrees, probably 100 on that turf,” he said.
Moffat County set the tone for the second half right away as Ridge View took the kickoff, with a huge hit by Colby Beckett on the next play jarring the ball loose, though the Rams recovered.
The Rams went three and out and looked doomed when a weak punt from their own 32 opened the door for MCHS to score again. Still, another Bulldog fumble gave it right back to Ridge View at the 32, and it wasn’t long before they had to punt yet again.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Mendoza was brought out for the first time to punt, but it was worth the wait for the Dogs as he found coffin corner to leave Ridge View stranded at the 3-yard line.
Once Moffat County got the ball back right at the end of the quarter, a 20-yard reception by Scranton followed, with a four-yard TD dive by Nevarez not far behind, as well as a conversion to mark 10 total points on the day.
Blocking penalties hurt the Rams from there, and another fumble did no favors for the Dogs, but a late interception by Nevarez gave it back to Moffat County to run out the clock.
On 18 carries, Nevarez led rushing with 104 yards, Pascetti 87 yards on 12 attempts and Josh Teeter 20 from three rushes.
Despite a heavy ground game, Beaver was four for nine on passing, with 108 yards, 71 of which came from Scranton’s two grabs.
“We got back to basics, had a revival of our run game and blocked a lot better than we did last week,” Gille said. “It all starts up front, and on the line we had Colby Beckett, Toryn Hume, Braeden Barnes, Zane Shipman and Jared Baker.”
Gille said positions have been shuffled quite a bit throughout early games, as rookies and veterans of Bulldog football have mixed and matched.
“We’ve played a lot of kids these first two weeks, and it was really evident today, but it’s a testament to these kids,” he said.
Moffat County is now halfway through its non-conference schedule, coming off a 40-14 loss to Rawlins, Wyoming on Aug. 26.
In other 2A Western Slope League action, 2-0 Aspen have dominated in their early season, following an 80-50 opener versus Middle Park with a 44-0 beatdown Saturday in Arvada.
The Bulldogs and the Skiers remain the only 2A WSL schools to take wins so far this season, according to the MaxPreps scoreboard.
Last year’s conference champion Basalt recently had a bye week after a 34-14 loss to 3A Rifle, while the rest of the league all took losses in Friday road games — Roaring Fork at Olathe, 49-0; Coal Ridge at Meeker, 30-7; and Steamboat Springs at Summit, 24-3.
The Bulldogs will get their first look at some of the biggest threats of the 2A division in the coming weeks, starting Sept. 8 with Delta, ranked fourth in 2A during the preseason.
The Panthers will come fresh off a bye week for their first home game, currently 0-1 after a Zero Week slugfest in Durango that ended 3-0 in overtime with a field goal for the Demons.
The Delta game will be a challenge, though Gille is optimistic following the results at Ridge View.
“This gives us a little bit of confidence heading up against top 10 teams. I think we would have been in trouble had we not won this game, but I think now we’re on a roll, and we just need to keep it up,” he said.