Tigers finally triumph

Grand Junction rallies past Brighton for 1st win

Grand Junction High School running back Michael White runs past Brighton linebacker Nathan Baca during Saturday afternoon’s game at Stocker Stadium. The Tigers rallied from a 30-13 deficit for a 44-43 double-overtime victory against the Bulldogs.

Good! No good! Good!

Tigers win!

It was a tale of three kicks and whole lot more.

For about three-and-half quarters, Grand Junction was kicking themselves for letting an early 13-0 lead vanish. Then came the dramatic comeback and a 44-43 double overtime win over Brighton on Saturday at Stocker Stadium.

After all the white-knuckle drama, and physicality and ups and downs of football, it came down to the extra point.

And Grand Junction senior Tyler Mower was as cool as a snowbank. The snap was good, the hold was good and the kick was good, and the celebration was great.

“For our first win of the season, and to win it in double overtime, it doesn’t get any better than that,” running back Michael White said.

Mower’s game-winning kick was set up by a missed extra-point by Brighton after the Bulldogs took a 43-37 lead in the second overtime.

White, who had 185 yards on 28 carries, scored the first OT touchdown from 10 yards out then added a 4-yard score after Brighton tied the score at 37-37. White’s second TD set up Mower’s extra point.

High school overtime rules give each team four downs starting at the 10-yard line then repeat until one team wins.

The Tigers’ offensive line played a physical game and was key down the stretch. Senior lineman Dante Stewart said they remained confident even when the Bulldogs scored 30 straight points to take a 30-13 lead.

“As a team and we never lost hope,” Stewart said. “Our motto for the season is ‘keep grinding’ and that’s what we did today.”

It took a frantic final drive in regulation for Grand Junction (1-6, 1-1 Longs Peak Conference) to force overtime.

The fourth quarter was an emotional yo-yo for Grand Junction.

First, QB Jax Nourse and Clay Payne teamed up for a sack to force a punt. But later Grand Junction’s fake punt crumbled before it really got started and it looked like the Tigers were toast.

But they popped back up and had one last gasp every though they were 81 yards away with only 3 minutes to play.

Nourse completed four passes for 49 yards, including strikes to Camden Dottson and David Candelaria, and Hunter Tobiasson had a key 11-yard run on the drive.

With six seconds remaining, Mower calmly kicked a 
24-yard field goal to tie the game at 30-30.

Even before the late-game heroics for Grand Junction, they needed to claw their way back into the game from 30-13 down.

Fullback Shawn Garcia scored from 11 yards out to cut the deficit to 10 right before the end of the third quarter. Then Nourse zipped a quick pass to tight end Nate Hale on third down for a 6-yard TD to make the score 

Nourse, who had 146 yards passing, said things came together late.

“We kept fighting and we’ve done that all year but we always made those small mistakes that hurt us, but this time we didn’t make those mistakes and we came back and won,” he said.

Two big fourth-quarter defensive plays were key for the Tigers. Dottson had an interception that set up the scoring drive to make the score 30-27. Then Chavis Nourse drilled a receiver over the middle on third down jarring the ball loose. That gave the ball back to the Tigers for their game-tying drive.

Grand Junction took a quick 13-0 lead with Nourse powering in from one-yard out after a 66-yard opening drive. White set up that score with a 36-yard run then added the next score on the Tigers’ second drive with a four-yard run

That’s when Brighton (1-6, 1-1 LPC) got hot behind the running of Jesus Cardona-Ramirez, who scored on a 66-yard run in the second quarter, and quarterback Robbie Coffin, who finished with 210 yards passing.

Even for most of the third quarter, Brighton was in control. Coffin lofted a pass into the end zone that nearly tickled the fingertips of Dante Gonzalez but the Grand Junction junior couldn’t quite leap high enough and it resulted in a 19-yard TD for the Bulldogs and the 30-13 lead.

The Tigers started pressuring Coffin and shutting down the running game after that score.

“We came together as a team, finally, in that last drive and in overtime. It just feels great to finally get that first win of the season,” White said.


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