‘Dogs bite the Bruins
Hotchkiss defense forces five turnovers in win over rival Cedaredge
CEDAREDGE — On the stat sheet Friday night, Class 1A’s No. 3-ranked football team, Cedaredge, topped Hotchkiss in total yards, 276-162.
On the scoreboard, though, fourth-ranked Hotchkiss won 28-6 to spoil the Bruins’ homecoming in the 1A Western Slope Conference opener for each team.
Four interceptions and a fumble recovery gave the Bulldogs’ offense a short field to work with, twice starting drives inside the Bruins’ 20 yard-line.
Usually explosive running back Alex Smith, who has averaged 127 yards rushing per game this season, ran for only 32 yards on 11 carries. But when Hotchkiss (4-1) needed Smith, particularly inside the red zone, the Bulldogs gave him the ball.
After having not gained more than a yard from scrimmage with just less than six minutes left in the second quarter, Smith broke through the pile for a 19-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Smith caught a shovel pass and broke two tackles for a 6-yard touchdown.
“Alex is a little guy, but he plays as tough as nails and like he’s 225 pounds,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “He runs hard and has great speed. Usually guys with speed like his are only fit for running on the outside, but he can run between the tackles, too. He takes whatever he can get for this team, and he’s completely unselfish.”
Hotchkiss quarterback Devan Rupe completed six of 12 passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a touchdown run.
“It felt really good for us to start in the red zone a couple times,” Rupe said. “We thought we could do it early in the game and we were able to move the ball despite Cedaredge doing some good things on defense.”
Lemon said defense won the game for Hotchkiss and made up for the sometimes-stagnant offense. He also said the secondary bounced back from giving up four passing touchdowns in an overtime victory against Monte Vista.
“For whatever reason (Cedaredge’s) defense is always able to contain us,” Lemon said. “Luckily for us our defense was making plays and giving our offense a good chance to score. Trent (Walker is) a great quarterback, and we had to work hard to keep him in check. We needed to clarify some things from a week ago and really make sure that our secondary was prepared. We know what Cedaredge is capable of in the passing game and really put a lot of emphasis on it this week in practice.”
The Bulldogs snagged two interceptions in each half. Jacob Schreiner led Hotchkiss with two interceptions. He said the mental preparation from the previous week of practice allowed the Bulldogs to play at the highest level the junior has seen during his career.
“We’re all-out all the time,” Schreiner said. “We came out today sharp and adjusted formations well and played hard. We were taking our time out there and being patient.”
For Cedaredge (3-2, 0-1 WSL), quarterback Trent Walker threw a season-high 42 times, completing 20 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Kyle Ward caught six passes for 76 yards and Tylor Beach caught five passes for 39 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland said a lack of passion ultimately cost his team. He also said the offensive and defensive lines will need to improve for the Bruins to beat quality opponents.
“You know Hotchkiss, they were fired up and ready to play,” Milholland said. “They beat us in the trenches. They’re a well-coached team, and we were overmatched with their passion, I guess. You can’t have that many mistakes and expect to win, at any level.
“You take away the interceptions, and I thought Trent had a great game. He was under duress and made some plays with his feet to extend plays. He can throw very well. It was just unfortunate that the turnovers occurred. Our line needs to improve so we can run the ball, otherwise we throw 42 times.”