Taking to the air
Passing attack and defense lift Fruita Monument past Central
They wanted to stop Vince Grasso.
More or less, Central did slow the Fruita Monument running back.
But it didn’t stop quarterback Jake Lynch. Typically with seven or eight defenders stuffing the box, many Warriors blitzed, and for Lynch, that meant go to the air or go home.
Lynch passed for 195 yards and two touchdowns in Fruita Monument’s 33-10 win over Central on Friday night at Stocker Stadium.
“They’ve got a big front seven, too,” said Lynch, who completed 17 of 24 passes. “I think their average weight is 230, 240. ... They must have studied film because we ran a lot of sweeps with that tight bunch.”
And numerous times, Grasso, who finished with 58 yards rushing on 19 carries, was stopped in the backfield on sweeps.
But more than anything for Fruita Monument (3-4, 2-0 Southwestern Conference), the game was about forgetting its emotional 20-14 win last week over rival Grand Junction.
Central (0-6, 0-1) was hoping to take advantage of a possible emotional low from Fruita.
“That’s exactly what we were thinking,” said Central wide receiver Josh Weller, who caught three passes for 65 yards, including a 26-yard score in the fourth quarter. “We played Fruita at camp, at Mesa, and we hung in there with them. I’d say we won that scrimmage. So, we had a lot of confidence thinking that: Fruita beat Junction, hopefully we can roll off Fruita and beat them, roll off Durango. But it’s still an open league. And we’re still not going to give up.”
Lynch said Fruita did have a bit of an emotional low.
“There were some times we played flat, and it showed,” Lynch said. “But we’ve just got to learn to turn the page quicker and turn the intensity up as much as we can.”
Fruita wide receiver Brandon Kubic, who caught seven passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, knew an emotional low could be costly.
“Coaches just told us, ‘You’ve got to get past Junction this week,’ ” Kubic said. “‘That’s over. We beat them. Just move on to this one.’”
Central put its first points on the board when Kubic took a handoff and strayed into the end zone. Freshman Colton Maybury tracked Kubic down and tackled him for a safety.
Down 26-2, Central got the ball back and put together a drive highlighted by two Mike Price-to-Weller completions of 30 and 26 yards. The second was a touchdown, and Central trailed 26-10 early in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense did a good job today, and with all the turnovers we had, they probably should have scored more than 33 points,” Weller said. “I know a lot of us seniors thought we had a great chance at this game. It just started off good and took a wrong turn.”
It began with Central’s Kyle Evans recovering a Grasso fumble in Wildcats territory on Fruita’s opening series. But Central couldn’t score, and Fruita came back as Spencer Fair made field goals from 40 and 47 yards.
Central’s passing game took a dive in the second quarter. First, Doran Wood intercepted a Mike Price pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
“I just took my read step, dropped back, and the ball was coming to me,” Wood said, “so I just caught it. I’m lucky to have pretty awesome teammates setting the blocks up for me. Without the blocks I wouldn’t have scored, that’s for sure.”
On Central’s next possession, Nick Chaffe intercepted Price and returned it nine yards to the Fruita 41.
Also in the first half, Fruita, which has shown this season it rarely backs down from adversity, faced a first-and-35 from its own 30 after two holding penalties. But Fruita pecked away at the deficit and eventually capped a nearly-six-minute, 67-yard drive with Aidan Woomer’s five-yard touchdown run.
Fruita led 26-0 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Central managed its 10-point jolt and had a shot for more when Central and Fruita swapped momentum changers. First, Central linebacker Colton Miller crushed Grasso four yards behind the line of scrimmage, causing a fumble that was recovered by Jacob Crosby.
But on the next play, Fruita Monument’s Brody King sacked Price. The ball squirted free and was recovered by C.L. Flowers at the Wildcats 26-yard line. Fruita scored four plays later on Kubic’s 7-yard touchdown reception from Lynch to put Fruita ahead, 33-10.
“Like we said this week,” Wood said, “if we don’t beat Central, then that Junction game wouldn’t mean much.”