A wild day at the park, Central claims thrilling SWC win
For the second consecutive Friday, a Southwestern Conference football game at Stocker Stadium came down to the final minute.
For the second consecutive Friday, it involved Fruita Monument High School.
One week after Fruita pulled off a thrilling 18-14 victory over Grand Junction in the final minute, it was Central’s turn to pull out the victory this time.
The Warriors mounted a 97-yard drive in the final 4½ minutes to overtake the Wildcats 21-18 and in front of a screaming Central homecoming crowd.
Trailing 18-13 after Fruita Monument’s punt was downed at the 3-yard line, Central offensive coordinator Casey Doss had a simple message for his players before he sent them on the field for what everyone realized was the game’s definitive drive with 4:37 remaining.
“I said, ‘One down at a time, don’t get greedy,’ ” Doss said.
“I knew that drive was the game,” Warriors quarterback Holden Reed said.
On third-and-eight from the 5, Reed kept the ball on a run to the right for eight yards.
With a fresh set of downs and some room to operate, Reed hit Clay Kame over the middle for 24 yards.
“We just took what (Fruita Monument) gave us,” Reed said of heeding Doss’ words about not trying to gain too much at once.
Reed connected with Kame over the middle on a key third-down conversion to the Wildcat 34.
“We tried to get the ball and get out of bounds,” Reed said, although Central began the drive with all three of its timeouts and had to use two.
On third and one, Nolan Curtis took a pitch to the right side and gained 23 yards to the Wildcat 2.
That set up Reed’s run over left tackle out of the shotgun for the score with 23.6 seconds remaining.
“We knew we had momentum on our side,” said Reed, who scored Central’s first touchdown in the second quarter after the Wildcats had taken a 12-0 lead.
Central secured the victory when linebacker Trent Harris picked off Fruita quarterback Brett Nankervis’ pass at the Warrior 25 and ran out the clock.
“I just got a drop with the defensive backs,” Harris said.
“I was very confident with our team,” Central coach Vern McGee said.
McGee was most pleased with Central’s defensive stand at the end of the first half that kept the Wildcats out of the end zone on fourth and two, allowed the Warriors to go to the break trailing only 12-7.
“This is a big win, a great win,” Harris said.