Wind makes passing tough for Grand Junction, Lakewood

The Grand Junction and Lakewood high school football teams like to rely on their running games.

They had to Friday night in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at Stocker Stadium, even though both teams are confident and capable of passing the ball.

When each team had an opportunity to throw or needed to pass, it was nearly impossible with the wind gusting up to 32 mph at times, according to the National Weather Service.

Out patterns fell short of receivers and the ball wobbled in the air, punts and kicks hung in the air.

Even long snaps were affected.

“There were situations we wanted to pass and couldn’t,” Lakewood coach Mark Robinson said. “It affected us too.

“We typically like to pass more than we did tonight. We just didn’t feel comfortable throwing that ball in the air with the gusts.”

Both teams’ quarterbacks were affected, completing a total of 4 of 15 passes (27 percent) for only 42 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.

Sean Rubalcaba completed 2 of 7 passes for 22 yards and one interception. Lakewood quarterback Dylan Nelson completed 2 of 8 passes for 20 yards and one interception.

“The wind was a huge factor,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “It affected the passing game. We probably should’ve tried passing earlier, but we’re a running team.”

The passing game became more important in the second half.

Lakewood faced a third-and-long on its second possession of the third quarter. Nelson attempted a pass near the sideline, but the pass was short of the receiver, who interfered with a Grand Junction defender. Lakewood had to punt.

Grand Junction found itself in a passing situation late in the third quarter and had to punt.

The snap, though, never made it to the punter.

“The punter said it was a knuckleball and it just blew away,” Owens said.

Grand Junction recovered the ball, but Lakewood took over on downs near midfield.

Running back John Greer scoring on an 11-yard run for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:16 left in the third quarter.

Grand Junction moved the ball into Lakewood territory on its next possession early in the fourth quarter, but faced fourth-and-6 on the Lakewood 42.

Instead of passing the ball, Grand Junction running back Jerreon Dennis carried it, but was tackled well short of a first down.

Grand Junction had another opportunity on its next possession, but Rubalcaba’s pass to Chandon Rose was held up by the wind and knocked down by a Lakewood defender.


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