Central grinds out a win against GJ
After being humbled by Montrose the previous week, the Central High School football team approached Saturday night’s game against Grand Junction as a matter of pride.
Not that it isn’t always the case in the cross-town rivalry.
“I wasn’t talking all last weekend I was so mad,” Warriors middle linebacker Trent Harris said of Central’s 45-13 loss to the Indians.
The Warriors’ pride was in strong force against the Tigers at Stocker Stadium as Central held on for a 12-7 victory.
“In 20 years of coaching that’s the worst I’ve misjudged my team,” Central coach Vern McGee said of his team’s performance against Montrose.
At Monday’s practice, McGee and his staff addressed the pride factor.
Although Grand Junction’s offense gained 367 yards, the Warriors kept the Tigers out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t because of turnovers in particular, although Grand Junction did give up an interception and a fumble.
It was more a matter of stopping the Tigers on crucial third and fourth downs.
“They were moving the ball,” Harris said of the Tigers’ offense.
The Tigers were poised to put the ball in the end zone early in the second quarter, facing a third-and-1 from the Central 2. The Warriors stopped Jayke Brock for no gain on third down. On fourth down, the
Tigers were called for delay of game, moving the ball back five yards. Central stopped them two yards short of the goal line on fourth down.
From that point, “We read a little bit better,” Harris said of deciphering the Tigers’ offensive formation.
“We got it done.”
Central scored on its second series, with quarterback Holden Reed hooking up with Scott Clow in the right corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score.
For much of the remainder of the game, it appeared as if that score might hold up.
The Warriors added another touchdown with 6:09 remaining in the game.
That’s when Grand Junction mounted its only scoring drive, moving 57 yards in six plays, the last 10 coming on a Sean Rubalcaba-to-Ashur Verna pass in the left corner of the end zone.
The Tigers got the ball back, but Travis Key made their task nearly impossible by pinning Grand
Junction on its own 2-yard line with a 36-yard punt with 1:06 remaining.
Grand Junction (2-6, 1-2 Southwestern Conference) outgained Central by nearly 140 yards in total offense.
Nolan Curtis did most of Central’s work on offense, gaining 100 rushing yards on 24 carries. The Warriors completed only three passes.
Central (4-4, 2-1 SWC) was not surprised by the low-scoring game.
“I expected it to be a defensive battle,” Harris said.
So did McGee, who said, “I tip my hat to Grand Junction. They’re going to be good down the road.”
He was equally pleased with how well his team bounced back from the loss to Montrose, as was Harris.
“We’re better than the Montrose game,” Harris said. “We had all the tools; we just had to use them.”