Tigers’ upset bid falls short
Montrose closes in on another SWC title
Montrose High School’s football team has a knack for coming through in the clutch.
Friday night at Stocker Stadium against Grand Junction (3-6, 2-2 Southwestern Conference), the Indians (8-1, 3-0 SWC) scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win 28-21.
“We knew it was going to be that way,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “Our kids fought and that’s how it’s been all year.”
After a fourth-down stand inside their 20-yard line, the Tigers took possession with four minutes left in the third quarter and went on a 14-play, 86-yard drive. Jayke Brock capped the drive with a 27-yard touchdown, giving Grand Junction the 21-14 lead.
“We ran the football well tonight,” Grand Junction receiver Chandon Rose said.
The Indians responded quickly to Brock’s touchdown. On Montrose’s first offensive play of the fourth quarter, Glayden Berry took a handoff up the middle for 67 yards to tie the game at 21-21.
“Glayden has made plays for us all year,” Casebier said. “I thought all of our seniors did a great job in the second half.”
Grand Junction followed the Indians’ score by going three plays and punting. Brock’s punt traveled only 14 yards, giving the ball back to Montrose at the Tigers’ 36-yard line.
Montrose took four plays to score. Running back Jordan Passehl appeared to be stopped in a pile before he broke through for a 20-yard touchdown. The score gave the Indians a 28-21 lead.
“Any time they are running the football, they are tough to defend,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “We gave them plenty of opportunity with the short field.”
Needing to respond, Grand Junction was looking to put together a drive, but was stopped short when quarterback Sean Rubalcaba’s pass was intercepted by Roland McLaren after Rubalcaba’s intended receiver fell down.
Montrose drove to the Tigers’ 2-yard line, but a Nathan Robertson 21-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. The missed field goal gave the Tigers a chance with 1:30 left.
They drove to the Montrose 24-yard line before Grand Junction ran out of time.
The Tigers missed several chances to build a lead because they couldn’t finish drives.
“We gave them too many big plays,” Owens said. “Our offense let them off the hook and good teams will find ways to win when you do that.”
The Tigers gave up a big play on the game’s first series when Montrose’s Tanner Stuart recovered a Grand Junction fumble at the Tigers’ 16-yard line. Passehl scored three plays later on a 6-yard run.
Passehl had 87 total yards in the game and Berry added 117.
Grand Junction responded with an 80-yard drive, capped when Rubalcaba connected with Rose from 16 yards out to tie the game at 7-7.
Grand Junction scored on its next drive, going 79 yards, with Brock punching it in from 3 yards out for a 14-7 lead.
Brock finished with 150 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Rubalcaba went 17 of 29 for 168 yards passing and added 57 yards on the ground.
The Tigers had opportunities on their next two drives in the first half, but missed a field goal and had two big penalties to force them to punt.
“We expect these Junction schools to play hard,” Casebier said. “We knew it was going to be more competitive.”
The Indians tied the game at 14-14 when Passehl returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown.
“We had multiple opportunities to win,” Rose said. “But we couldn’t come through.”
Montrose attempts to clinch its fourth straight SWL championship next week at home against Durango.
“We hear that our reign is over,” Casebier said. “Well, I guess it’s not over tonight.”