All for naught: Daniels’ big game wasted in Fruita’s lopsided loss
Tyler Daniels had a career day as a wide receiver.
Saturday at Stocker Stadium, the Fruita Monument High School senior caught four passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Daniels, though, won’t remember his big day for more than a lopsided 55-14 loss to Cherokee Trail.
“It was embarrassing,” Daniels said. “We know we can play better than this.”
Fighting a turf temperature of 173.2 degrees at kickoff, the Wildcats saw a 24-14 halftime deficit balloon in the second half, with the Cougars scoring 31 unanswered points.
“It’s disappointing,” Fruita Monument coach Shawn Marsh said. “We didn’t come out and compete like we should have.”
The Wildcats didn’t match Cherokee Trail’s intensity early when the Cougars scored on their first series.
Bobby Tolliver returned Spencer Fair’s punt 30 yards to the Fruita Monument 20-yard line.
The Cougars scored two plays later when quarterback Thomas Singleton scored on a 4-yard run.
Fruita Monument responded on its next drive when quarterback Zach Thorpe connected with Daniels, who streaked down the sideline 80 yards for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
After Fruita was unable to capitalize on a fumble by Cherokee Trail, the Cougars got the ball back and went 80 yards in eight plays. The drive ended with Singleton connecting with Anthony Thompson on a 29-yard touchdown.
Running an offense very similar to Fruita’s, Singleton finished 12 of 20 for 137 yards passing and ran for 100 yards on 17 carries.
Early on, Fruita Monument was able to go toe-to-toe with the Cougars, and displayed just how dangerous its offense can be.
Thorpe found Daniels on the same fade route, and the senior receiver picked up a block from Martin Zupan at the Cougars’ 30 to complete his 72-yard touchdown reception to tie the score at 14-14.
“The safety was playing in and the cornerback bit on some of the underneath routes,” Daniels said. “That left me in a good spot.”
Fruita’s offense stumbled on its next two series, and the Cougars eventually put together another drive.
After another solid punt return, this time from Brady Baca, the Cougars capped a nine-play, 35-yard drive on a run by Austin Ruff.
Cherokee Trail added a 35-yard field goal from Brady Rogers to take a 24-14 halftime lead.
“We started out OK,” Daniels said. “We played a good first quarter, played with them, then it just unfolded like it did.”
Cherokee Trail’s Tolliver scored a 4-yard run on the Cougars’ first drive of second half to put Cherokee Trail up 31-14.
That’s when things really got out of hand.
On Fruita’s next drive, defensive line pressure forced Thorpe to fumble, which was scooped up by defensive lineman Ryan Campbell.
That turnover led to another Cherokee Trail field goal.
Mistakes allowed the Cougars to start in Fruita’s territory the next two drives, which resulted in 14 points. By the end of the third quarter, Cherokee Trail had pushed its lead to 48-14.
“We have to come back next week and work a lot harder,” Daniels said. “As a leader, I have to push these guys harder, it’s obvious we aren’t getting it done.”
Nate Schneider’s 70-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Cougars up 55-15, the seventh different Cherokee Trail player to score.
Although the Wildcats gave up the 55 points and 458 yards on 65 offensive plays, Daniels said the Wildcats’ inability to sustain long drives forced the defense to spend way too much time on the field.
“Our defense played their hearts out,” Daniels said. “We have to stay out there offensively, and that’s what killed us.”