‘Cats fight to end
Fruita's late rally falls just short vs. Montrose
The losing team walked off the field, some choking, some tearful, hugging one another or walking with a stagger.
The winners were tearful, too. And some, such as Montrose linebacker Anthony Crow, who had the game-winning interception in the Indians’ 28-25 win over Fruita Monument on Friday, spoke through lumps of emotion: “It was intense,” he said, eyes sunken at Stocker Stadium.
The scene was the result of a wet, stunning final few minutes. Montrose led 28-10 with seven minutes remaining.
But Fruita strung all this together: It converted on fourth down on a fake punt, then converted on another fourth down before a Vince Grasso touchdown run; recovered a Montrose fumble on the next series and scored on a Jake Lynch one-yard run; recovered yet another Montrose fumble on a muffed snap as the Indians tried to run out the clock, and Fruita took over at the Indians’ 42-yard line.
Suddenly down only 28-25, Fruita drove inside the Montrose 10-yard line, where Brandon Kubic fumbled after a pass completion. Montrose recovered, then fumbled, and Fruita offensive lineman Matt Bear chased the ball down some 10 yards for a recovery.
Finally, an end. A Lynch pass was tipped and intercepted by Crow with about 30 seconds remaining.
Montrose (4-3, 1-0 Southwestern Conference) is the league leader. Fruita Monument (3-5, 2-1) takes a step back.
Grand Junction (5-2, 1-1), which lost to Fruita and plays at Montrose next week, can inhale from the oxygen mask.
Montrose held Grasso to 38 yards rushing on 13 carries. Lynch passed for 158 yards.
Angelo Youngren had 133 yards on 30 carries for the Indians.
“The bottom line is we got the job done,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “We can talk about what went wrong late, or we can talk about we’re 1-0 in league, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Early in the fourth quarter, with a referee draping a towel over the ball between snaps to block rain, Montrose drove 80 yards in 7 minutes, 18 seconds, and scored on Youngren’s two-yard run. Montrose led 28-10.
That was before the ball became slippery, as though dunked in egg yolk.
“It was wet, very wet,” Montrose quarterback Drew Casebier said. “But you can’t use that as an excuse. The (wetness) was the cause of the fumbles, but at the same time we have to be able to snap the ball in wet weather.”
On Fruita’s next drive, Indians linebacker Grayson Burris sacked Lynch on third-and-5. But on fourth down, the Wildcats faked a punt as Lynch, from an up-back position, took the snap and threw to Cody Basinger for a 24-yard gain. The Wildcats later converted a fourth-and-3 when Lynch connected with Kubic for a 36-yard gain. Fruita scored on Grasso’s one-yard run and trailed 28-18.
Fruita went for an onside kick, which was covered by Montrose. But Fruita got the ball back on the next play when a Youngren fumble was recovered by Fruita’s Rylan Perez. But Montrose, plagued by injuries all season, overcame even that.
“We’ve had everything that can go wrong this year go wrong,” Todd Casebier said. “Hopefully this thing is coming together. ... It’s a big win in terms of playoffs because they’re a 5A opponent, and if you beat Grand Junction next week, you’ve got a great shot at league. But the door’s open now for GJ, too.”
In the third quarter, Fruita Monument perhaps had its best false start of the season. That penalty nullified a Fair 47-yard field goal. But on fourth-and-16 at the Montrose 35 after the penalty, Fruita went for it. Lynch found Zack Twardowski for a 23-yard pass completion. Grasso later scored on a one-yard run, and Fruita trailed 21-10 with seven minutes left.
And as has been the case for the Wildcats throughout the season, they snapped together another late comeback.