Playmakers: Montrose wins wild one over Central
As Central’s Vandon Sanchez flew down the Warriors’ sideline Friday night, it was clear this wasn’t the same old high school football game.
Sanchez answered an 80-yard kickoff return by Montrose’s Jordan Passehl with a 99-yard kickoff return of his own, giving Central a 24-21 lead at halftime.
“When they ran it back we knew we had to answer,” Sanchez said of the back-to-back kickoff returns. “The guys made some great blocks.”
But in the second half, Montrose (6-1, 1-0 Southwestern Conference) controlled the ball with 32 offensive plays and 10 first downs and escaped with a 34-31 win.
“This is a great win,” Montrose quarterback Nathan Robertson said. “Central gave us a great game, and pushed us.”
On Central’s homecoming night, the Warriors put Montrose in a situation it hadn’t seen all year. Central went blow for blow with the Indians, and forced Montrose to play from behind.
“I think we gave it 110 percent, and I don’t know how they got past us,” Sanchez said.
Taking the momentum earned from the kickoff return at the end of the first half, the Warriors (3-4, 1-1 SWC) got another big play on the first drive of the second half. At their own 23-yard line, Sanchez took a pitch from Central quarterback Holden Reed, started right, found a cutback lane, and scored on a 77-yard run.
“The line did a great job all night,” Sanchez said. “I ran to the outside and spun back. Every lineman blew someone up on that play.”
Sanchez finished with 128 yards on 14 carries, which is a season high in both categories. The reason Sanchez had so many opportunities was an early injury to starting running back Josh Buniger. The Warriors’ senior running back helped keep Central in the game early, breaking off a 81-yard touchdown run when the Warriors were down 7-3.
Two drives later, Montrose put together a 13-play drive and retook the lead, 14-10. Looking to answer, the Warriors turned to Buniger on the ensuing drive. On the second play from scrimmage, Buniger again found a hole and sprinted 44 yards before being dragged down from behind. Buniger hurt his left ankle on the play.
“It’s either a sprain, or it could be broken,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “We’ll get an X-ray, and find out tomorrow.”
With the two big runs, Buniger ended with 130 yards on only seven carries.
Sanchez took over duties at running back and finished off the drive punching it in with a 2-yard run, giving Central a 17-14 lead.
“I took over for my friend Josh, and I hope he’s all right,” Sanchez said. “I will remember this game for the rest of my life.”
Sanchez’s touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Warriors a 31-21 lead. Montrose answered back when Robertson found Roland McLaren on a 33-yard reception.
Central responded with a long drive but stalled out at the 10-yard line, and a 32-yard Jeff Krizman field attempt sailed wide right. With eight minutes left in the game, Montrose gave the ball to Passehl and marched 80-yards to regain the lead 34-31.
Passehl finished the night rushing for 158 yards on 28 carries.
McGee said the fact the Warriors were unable to cause any turnovers allowed the Indians to make the long drives.
“When we get turnovers we can stop those long drives,” McGee said. “They scored and took six minutes off the clock, and in high school football that’s impressive.”
Central plays Grand Junction next week.