Wildcats fall to Indians in heartbreaking fashion
MONTROSE — With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 27-21 win against Fruita Monument, Montrose High School wide receiver Cameron Jones knew he just needed to stay calm.
With less than 10 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 21-21, the Indians had one last chance to win.
Lining up at the Wildcats’ 4 yard line, Jones took a route to the far right corner of the end zone.
The pass from Drew Casebier was batted by a Fruita defensive back, but the ball fell in just the right position for Jones to make a diving catch on the way down with 6 seconds left.
“That pass was crazy,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘Just catch it. Keep your eyes on the ball and catch it.’ “
Despite missing the point-after kick, it was enough to propel Montrose past the Wildcats who completed a pass on the final play of the game, but the clock ran out.
“We’re devastated,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “I don’t know any other way to put it.
“It’s a gut-wrenching thing. It breaks your heart and is just stomping on it.”
The Indians took the lead on their first drive of the game, with a 38-yard pass from Casebier to Jones, who made a diving catch into the end zone with 7:17 left in the first quarter.
Fruita tied it on the next drive, which included a 65-yard pass from quarterback Grant Black to Rylan Perez that moved the ball to the Indians’ 3-yard line. After a penalty, the Wildcats scored on a 6-yard run by Vince Grasso and Spencer Fair’s kick made it 7-7.
Montrose took the next drive to the Wildcats’ 1-yard line, but was stopped on third and fourth down.
The Wildcats moved the ball to the 3 but Black fumbled and recovered he ball in the end zone for a Montrose safety and with 8 seconds left in the first quarter, the Indians led 9-7.
With 8 minutes left in the second quarter, the Montrose defense came through.
The Indians, who had turned it over on downs at the Wildcats’ 18-yard line, allowed only three plays in the drive. The first was a 1-yard run by Devin Dance.
The second was an incomplete pass, nearly intercepted by Jones.
He intercepted the next pass, returning it 20 yards for a TD.
In the second half, the Wildcats worked back in the game, starting with their first drive.
After moving the ball to their own 40-yard line behind short runs by Grasso and a 10-yard pass from Black to Brandon Kubick, Grasso broke off a 60-yard run up the middle for a touchdown with 5:17 left in the third. The Wildcats attempted to tie it with a two-point conversion, but were stopped on a run.
Montrose extended the lead to 21-13 on a 23-yard pass from Casebier to Alexander Blake with 7:32 in the fourth quarter. Fruita again blocked the kick.
Fruita tied the game almost four minutes later on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Black to Chance Hanson. Grasso converted a handoff to the right side to tie it at 21-21 with 3:38 left.
After getting the ball back at their own 46 on a punt with 1:22 left, Black threw two straight incompletions before he was intercepted by Angelo Youngren with 1:12 left. Youngren returned it from the Indians’ 30 to Fruita’s 30, which set Montrose up for the winning drive.
The game had playoff consequences for both teams.
Montrose coach Todd Casebier said the Indians can clinch a Class 4A home playoff game with a win next week at home against Durango.
Fruita must wait until Sunday to see if it makes the 32-team playoff field.
The Wildcats, which entered Friday’s game ranked No. 31, likely will miss the playoffs after the loss, Mulvey said. Fruita would still play next week in a non-playoff game.