Titans top Gunnison for big win at home in football
NEW CASTLE — Robby Moore summed up the past few weeks for the Coal Ridge High School football team with one simple phrase.
“We’re just one big family now,” the Titans’ senior quarterback said.
Moore scored three touchdowns, two of them early on with the final decisive scoring run with 1 minute, 54 seconds left to play, to propel Coal Ridge to a 26-13 Class 2A Western Slope Conference victory in the Titans’ homecoming game against Gunnison.
“We came down the field on those first two drives pretty much mistake free,” Coal Ridge coach Scott Parker said. “The kids played well and I’m happy.”
The game marked the return of Parker and five players on the Coal Ridge roster after a two-game absence. Parker was placed on administrative leave from his coaching duties for violating the school’s coaching code of conduct.
The five players who also missed two games sat out for a violation of school policy. Though school officials will not confirm the violations, multiple sources said the punishment stemmed from a hazing incident involving players prior to the season.
After the Titans (2-3 overall, 1-1 Class 2A WSC) snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory, the team was more than eager to put the past two weeks behind them.
“I’d rather focus on tonight’s game,” said Parker, who received a Gatorade bath from his players as the final seconds ticked off the game clock.
“There’s always emotions going into any game, especially one like this. It’s homecoming and it’s a big league game at home. You want to got those big games at home, and we did that tonight.”
The players had plenty of emotions, too.
“I’ve never been so happy to be playing football in my entire life,” said senior receiver Cody Walls, who finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Moore finished 4 for 12 passing for 67 yards, and Coal Ridge fumbled the ball six times and lost two of them, giving the Cowboys (3-2, 0-2) a chance to rally. The biggest contributor down the stretch was Brent Hazzard, whose 38-yard fourth-quarter run helped the Titans milk the clock.
“Brent Hazzard put the team on his back tonight,” Walls said.
Gunnison, which won all of its nonleague games but has lost its first two WSL matchups, was limited to 101 rushing yards.
Connor Clark finished 8 of 23 passing for 109 yards and a touchdown, with six of those completions going to receiver Caleb Wilson. Still, the Coal Ridge defense played well, as both of the interceptions it recorded resulted in touchdowns.
Moore got the Titans on the board early, capping a 12-play, 67-yard drive to open the game with a two-yard jaunt into the end zone with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Cowboys responded, with passes of 13 and 17 yards from Clark to Caleb Wilson set up Jesse Duft’s 9-yard scoring run. But another interception by the Titans’ defense, this one returned 35 yards by Walls to the Cowboys’ 11, set up a six-yard halfback pass into the end zone from Walls to Derik Brown for a 19-6 halftime lead.
Gunnison responded, though, pulling within 19-13 on a 20-yard, third-quarter TD pass from Clark to Steven Starkebaum. But of the first 25 plays run in the fourth quarter, 21 of them were run by the Titans. That led to Moore’s decisive score which put Coal Ridge right back in the thick of the league-title race after a loss to Roaring Fork the previous week.
“We had a lot of emotions going into this game,” Walls said. “This will help us the right kind of emotion to keep on going.”
Rifle 41, Eagle Valley 12: Brandon Kittle had three rushing touchdowns and A.J. Cordova caught a touchdown from Adam Rice for the Bears.
Hotchkiss 54, Rangely 6: Braedon Horton ran for three touchdowns and threw another touchdown pass for Hotchkiss, which led 42-6 at halftime.