Big quarter costly for Central in football

LAKEWOOD — For 36 minutes, the Central High School football team hung with Dakota Ridge in Saturday’s nonconference matchup at Jeffco Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, high school football games last 48 minutes.

Central watched its advantage slip away as the Eagles scored 31 points in the second quarter en route to a 58-26 victory.

“We had the lead,” Central coach Vern McGee said of his team forging a 20-13 edge with just over four minutes remaining in the half. “Then we had three turnovers in a row.”

Things caved in quickly for the Warriors (0-5), who lost their three previous games by a combined 23 points.

Barely a minute after Ben Dalton’s defensive score for Central — he tipped a pass and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown — the Eagles (3-1 and ranked 11th in the latest Denver Post/9News poll) caught fire.

A 45-yard scoring play by Josh Morrison on a slant pass tied the game. One minute and 20 seconds later, after a bad snap in the shotgun formation gave Dakota Ridge the ball back, the Eagles took the lead for good on a 21-yard completion to Jake Ianella off a tipped pass.

Only 90 seconds remained in the second quarter, but Dakota Ridge wasn’t done.

Dillon DeLauro picked off a Mike Price pass and returned it 25 yards to the end zone. And after a Central punt, the Eagles got the ball in range for a 39-yard Zach Barwick field goal as the first half expired with Dakota Ridge up 37-20.

Twenty-three seconds into the third quarter, the Eagles struck again. Aaron Nelson caught a screen pass out of the backfield and scampered 45 yards. Dakota Ridge scored again seven minutes later to salt the game away.

The Warriors have found the nonconference schedule just as tough after dropping from Class 5A to 4A this season.

“I don’t know if we have adapted (to the challenging nonconference schedule),” McGee said. “You hope you take a step forward. I don’t know if we did.”

The Eagles threw for 301 yards against Central.

On the plus side, Warrior tailback Dusty Sanchez had another solid game, rushing for 157 yards.

McGee said having Sanchez healthy after early-season injuries has allowed him to take pressure off fullback Noah Sanchez, who got the bulk of the carries earlier in the season.

“Our tailbacks have gotten better,” McGee said.

Indeed, backup Conner Williamson ran for 20 yards and Colton Miller added 29. As for Dusty Sanchez, he relishes the chance to carry the ball.

“Every opportunity I get, I’m trying to get plays,” he said.

Sanchez said his team is close to getting over the hump.

“Timely mistakes at the wrong time on the wrong part of the field (have hurt),” he said.

Central looks to correct those mistakes this week when it opens Southwestern Conference play against Fruita Monument, which knocked off defending conference champion Grand Junction in its SWC opener Friday.


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