Big plays fuel Regis’ victory over Fruita

Fruita Monument’s Vince Grasso runs for extra yardage Saturday during the Wildcats’ 41-7 loss to Regis Jesuit. Grasso scored the Wildcats’ lone touchdown at Stocker Stadium.

Four games into the season, the Fruita Monument High School football team has squared off against ranked teams from three different classifications.

Fruita opened the season with losses to Broomfield (Class 4A) and Cherokee Trail (Class 5A) before picking up its first win of the year against Glenwood Springs (Class 3A). All three were ranked at the time.

Saturday, the Wildcats (1-3) faced their fourth ranked opponent, No. 8 Regis Jesuit, at Stocker Stadium. Regis, which defeated Grand Junction in the quarterfinals of last year’s Class 5A state playoffs and eventually lost to Mullen in the 5A title game, ran circles around Fruita, 41-7.

The Wildcats gave up 456 yards of total offense to the Raiders (2-2), including passing touchdowns of 65 and 76 yards. Regis quarterback Jake Leathers picked apart Fruita’s defense for 234 yards. The Wildcats had 198 yards of total offense.

“You have to tell our team that it is what it is. (Regis) really took it to us,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “We didn’t execute our game plan and we had breakdowns on the field.”

Losing in the manner Fruita did wasn’t all bad, Mulvey said.

“I told the team all you can do is thank (Regis) for coming in and exposing where our weaknesses are,” he said. “Now, we have to go back to work and we really have to fix some stuff. We still believe that we are a better football team than the score indicated, but it just didn’t pan out that way for us today.”

The Wildcats opened the game with an 81-yard drive, with quarterback Zach Thorpe accounting for 42 yards through the air and on the ground.

But on first down on Regis’ 20-yard line, the Wildcats were flagged for a personal foul, backing them up to the 35-yard line. That’s when the wheels fell off. Fruita managed only eight yards and missed a 44-yard field goal.

But, the Wildcats got another chance.

On Regis’ second play from scrimmage, running back Jordan Jungers fumbled, and Braden Bair recovered at the Wildcats’ 26-yard line.

With the end zone in sight, the Wildcats’ offense struggled again, gaining three yards and missing a 40-yard field goal.

It took Regis three plays to get on the scoreboard, when Leathers hit receiver Dylan Conner in stride down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.

The score remained 7-0 until 7:23 of the second quarter when Regis took complete control, thanks to one quick scoring strike and two Fruita fumbles.

After a Fruita punt that pinned Regis on its own 25, Raider fullback Wesley Hackemer took a handoff up the middle, broke to the outside and sprinted 75 yards for the score. Regis’ extra point attempt was blocked by Aiden Woomer.

Regis converted two more turnovers into touchdowns for a 27-0 halftime lead.

“We didn’t play well at all in the first half,” Mulvey said. “We had some breakdowns and (Regis) was able to take advantage of those breakdowns.”

Down 41-0 after Leathers hit Sandy Fisher for a 76-yard touchdown, the Wildcats finally found their offense. Running back Vince Grasso, who finished with 95 yards rushing, ran for 58 yards on the final three drives and capped the last one with a 16-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left.

“That was a really tough loss,” Grasso said. “It just wasn’t a great game by us at all. I think (Regis) was really prepared, but we also missed some assignments. (Regis) was flying all over the place and did a good job on defense.

“We will be able to go back and watch the film and see what we really need to work on. We do feel like we will be prepared for the league schedule, but we really need to work on some things and just get better.”

Fruita’s late offensive surge late was a plus for Mulvey.

“We had chance to see how much fight we had in the second half,” he said. “I thought we played a 14-7 ballgame in the second half.

“You know, you look for positives and the bottom line is I thought we came out and played a better game in the second half than we did in the first half.”


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