Montrose uses ground game to defeat Grand Junction
It was a familiar first half for Montrose High School football team.
One week after taking a big lead into halftime only to see it evaporate into a loss, the Indians were not about to let that happen again.
Montrose (2-2) led 21-0 at the half and went on to beat Grand Junction 35-7 on Thursday night at Stocker Stadium.
After losing to Palisade 28-27 last week at Stocker Stadium when the Bulldogs scored 22 unanswered second-half points, the Indians put together a determined four-quarter effort.
“I’m ecstatic, honestly,” said fullback/linebacker Cade Atwood. “This is my first win ever at Stocker and it came my senior year, my last game ever on this field.”
In a dominating first half, Montrose outgained the Tigers 223 yards to 31.
“We just talked about (doing) what we say we’re going to do,” Atwood said. “Come out here, control the line of scrimmage and play our game. We just came out and executed.”
The game got off to a horrible start for Grand Junction (2-2) when the opening kickoff was touched by a player and the ball bounced out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
Montrose forced a punt and took advantage of the short field, driving 37 yards with Sam Collins scoring the first of his four touchdowns.
The workhorse back, who came into the game averaging more than 160 yards a game rushing, finished with 225 yards on 35 carries.
“It feels really good. We worked toward the second half this week and it really paid off,” Collins said. “We keep making really small mistakes and we still need to work on cutting those out.”
The Grand Junction offense had a hard time moving the ball against the swarming Montrose defense.
The Tigers’ second drive ended badly when Montrose senior Mason Weig blitzed from the left side and hit Grand Junction QB Clay Payne on a rollout. The ball popped loose to give the Indians another short field.
Three plays later, Collins scored from 2 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
The Indians’ ground game was the perfect tonic in a first half played in the rain.
A 15-play second-quarter drive ended without any points when Grand Junction’s J.T. Skalecki scooped up a fumble inside the 10.
When the Indians got the ball back, they went on another long drive that took 5 minutes, 31 seconds off the clock. Collins capped the 14-play drive with a 4-yard run.
Trailing 21-0, Grand Junction started the second half with two three-and-outs and Montrose put together another long, methodical drive.
The 80-yard drive featured a lot of Collins, who ran seven times for 70 yards — including runs of 28 and 20 yards. Atwood finished the drive with a 1-yard TD run.
Collins added a 9-yard scoring run to increase the lead to 35-0 early in the fourth quarter.
The Grand Junction pass defense, led by Skalecki, Dante Gonzalez, Marty Huff and Camden Dottson, didn’t give Montrose QB Caleb Egbert many open receivers.
The Tigers finally put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Logan Grossnickle broke through a huge hole, cut the outside and sprinted down the sideline for a 49-yard gain. The senior fullback scored two plays later from the 2 to cut the lead to 35-7.
The late score was all Grand Junction could muster against an Indians defense that was suffocating all night.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the week of practice we had,” said senior lineman Cory Gallegos. “We watched a lot of film and it really came together in the game. We finally put four good quarters together.
“It took a while but we finally got there.”
Teammate and fellow senior lineman Joseph Catanese agreed: “It felt really good to come back this week at practice and learn from our mistakes, and we were a lot more disciplined.”