Rodriguez scores 4 TDs as ‘Dogs clinch conference title
HOTCHKISS — For the first 10 minutes of Friday’s 48-0 win over Paonia, the second-ranked Hotchkiss High School football team struggled to make an impact offensively.
But after a two-minute span in which the Bulldogs (8-0, 4-0 WSC) forced a safety and scored a touchdown to get the momentum in their favor, there was no stopping them.
From there, the Bulldogs scored 19 points in the second quarter and 20 points in the third to clinch the Class 1A Western Slope Conference championship.
“We always have kind of a slow start,” said senior running back Jaime Rodriguez, who scored four touchdowns in the game. “Once we get rolling, we do what we do.”
In the first 10 minutes, the two defenses played neck-and-neck.
With 5:20 left in the first quarter, Hotchkiss had the ball on Paonia’s 10-yard line with six yards needed for a first down. Rodriguez got the ball, but was stopped one yard short.
From there, the Bulldogs’ defense turned the momentum.
After getting a quick first down, Paonia (4-4, 2-2 WSC) eventually faced fourth-and-20 at its own 10. On the punt, the Eagles snapped it out of the end zone for a safety with 2:34 left in the quarter.
“We were able to get the stand that forced the punt, which was a victory in itself,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “The safety really relaxed us a little bit. We were able to get the ball back with good field position and really go from there.”
On the ensuing possession, Hotchkiss started on its own 15-yard line and had three straight first downs. The streak started with a 15-yard run by Jacobe Galley, then a 15-yard pass from Braeden Horton to Chris Allen moved it to Paonia’s 35-yard line.
Rodriguez broke off a 10-yard run and two plays later he scored on a 28-yard run up the middle 35 seconds left in the quarter.
The point-after kick by Galley made it 9-0.
In the second quarter, Horton led the Bulldogs’ scoring charge. He scored on a 15-yard run for a 15-0 lead and then threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Conner Beard.
With 52 seconds left in the half, Galley scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0 at halftime.
After halftime, all of Hotchkiss’ scoring came from Rodriguez.
On the second-half kickoff, Galley returned the ball 37 yards to the Eagles’ 38. On the first play, Rodriguez took the handoff up the middle for a touchdown.
He scored from 10 yards out on the Bulldogs’ next drive and added a defensive touchdown when he picked up a bad snap and ran it 44 yards for a score.