Oh, so close
Fruita falls to Douglas County when last-second pass falls incomplete
One play, 0.4 seconds remained.
Suddenly, after the help of a 36-yard pass reception by Zach Griggs — more or less in Hail Mary fashion — Fruita had gone 66 yards in 45 seconds and was at the Douglas County 10.
And Fruita was down six points.
One play left. The gap was there for a slanting Griggs. But the pass by Fruita quarterback Jake Lynch skipped off the hands of Griggs, who was knocked down at the goal line by a pair of Douglas County defenders.
And Douglas County won 20-14 on Thursday at Stocker Stadium.
But it was a different play that sent some Fruita players to their knees, and Douglas County players into various airborne celebrations.
Just after Fruita had driven 80 yards and taken a 14-13 lead on a touchdown pass from Lynch to Brandon Kubick with 1:45 remaining, Douglas County (1-0) had the ball at its own 36. It was fourth down with four yards to go, and about a minute remained on the clock.
“Obviously it was a passing situation,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “We had a lot of guys back in coverage.”
Douglas County running back Trey Smith, who ran for 229 yards on 14 carries, saw a wide patch of green turf in Fruita’s secondary.
“I think they were thinking dive up the middle,” Smith said.
Not Lynch, a cornerback on the play.
“They had been running those outs,” Lynch said. “They caught us off guard.”
Or, for only the third time, a screen?
“I thought, ‘All right, what can we do that they wouldn’t expect?’ ” Douglas County coach Jeff Ketron said. “We’d been going up the middle, throwing the ball around. So I thought: Throw a screen.”
Smith caught the screen, immediately broke to the left side — to the giant patch of unmanned green he’d seen before the snap — and outran Lynch to the end zone.
With 51 seconds left, Douglas County led Fruita, 20-14.
“I was about to pass out with excitement,” Smith said. “It was crazy.”
But then Fruita (1-1) flashed something fierce. Call it a brazen show of self belief. It drowned its disbelief of Smith’s score and drove the ball.
Lynch completed a short pass, then a deep, sideline ball to Griggs, who outjumped a defender for a 36-yard gain. Later, a pass interference call put the ball at the Douglas County 10.
Five seconds remained.
“That is a good football team; it truly is,” Ketron said of Fruita. “And I’m not saying that out of courtesy; they are. They were jacked up to play, they played hard, no turnovers, one penalty, they played error-free, and that’s a tribute to the way they’re coached.”
And they were one completion short of going from the stunner, to the stunned, and back to the stunner.
“Man, we’re gamers,” Lynch said. “We have it in us. We’ve got the heart. It’s a big difference from last year. That will help out in the long run.”
A scoreless first half in which Fruita recovered three Douglas County fumbles gave way to the second-half buzz.
It all began on the first play of the second half. Griggs took the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Huskies’ 26-yard line.
Four plays later, Kaie Clark scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lynch for a 7-0 Fruita lead.
Although Douglas County’s defense stacked the run, holding Fruita standout running back Vince Grasso to 83 yards rushing on 16 carries, Lynch completed eight of 14 passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception.
“Our quarterback played an amazing, phenomenal game,” Mulvey said. “He made great reads, led the troops and was on point.”
Only two games into the season, at least one thing is clear for Fruita: It’s capable of a wicked counter punch.
“We’ve got scrappy kids who are not going to give up,” Mulvey said. “Until that last second ticks off the clock, these kids are going to work their butts off for that victory.”