Two weeks ago, the Fruita Monument High School football team erased a 21-7 deficit and rallied for a victory over Central.
Thursday night at Stocker Stadium, the Wildcats found themselves on the opposite side of such a comeback.
Fruita Monument had advantages in plays, 69-40, first downs, 21-10, and yards, 281-246, but lost to Chatfield 22-21.
Jack Wells rolled to the left and completed a pass to a wide-open Josh Becker in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion with 3 minutes, 38 seconds to go to give the Chargers, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, the victory.
"We shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes and we've got to clean up those mistakes," said Fruita coach Cameron Ross. "I thought we played hard today. I was proud of our guys. We were very physical with this team, more physical than we've been this season, but we made too many mistakes to come out with the win."
Physicality defined the Wildcats (1-2), who controlled the clock for most of the game. Denim Luster ran 30 times for 146 yards and a touchdown, part of a ground game that rolled up 247 yards.
Unfortunately, Fruita's offense needed at least one more yard late in the game.
The Wildcats' first three plays after Chatfield took the lead netted just over nine yards. On 4th and inches, the Chargers stuffed Luster at the line of scrimmage to seal the win.
"You have to let them know we're going to come back to that play again," Ross said. "That's our bread and butter. It's what we make our living on. We're going to watch film tomorrow, learn from our mistakes and get better."
The Wildcats started the second half exactly how they wanted to. Already up 14-7, Fruita put together an 18-play drive that burned 9:36 off of the clock and ended with Luster's 3-yard scoring run.
The formula to slow down the Chargers' attack, which features the spread-out "tempo" offense as well as an option-based "psycho" offense, was working.
"They have an explosive offense with many weapons," Ross said. "Limiting their ability to be on the field with those weapons was one of those key things we wanted to do. Sustain long drives, put points on the board, that was our goal."
Chatfield (3-1) showed off its explosiveness trailing 21-7. On third and long from his own 39, Chargers quarterback Matt Canino launched the ball to a well-covered Jon Dorrance, who made the catch at the 14-yard line while falling backward.
Two plays later, Daniel Nickels ran for a 15-yard touchdown on a jet sweep with the third quarter winding down.
After the Wildcats' next drive burned some clock but stalled in Chargers territory, Canino connected with Dorrance down the right sideline again, this time for 27 yards. The pitch and catch jump-started a drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown run by Nickels, again on a jet sweep, and the winning two-point try.
"I think we did pretty well defensively," Ross said. "We gave up a few big plays. Overall, I'm proud of the guys. They battled. It's a tough loss, but you can take a lot of good things from what we did."
Fruita opened the game with a touchdown drive aided by Chatfield penalties — two facemask infractions and a roughing the punter penalty. The drive also had to be stopped momentarily because offensive lineman Oscar Garcia got a Chatfield player's helmet stuck on his hand. The strange drive was a success, as quarterback Kade Bessert hit Connor Scholes in the flat on 3rd and goal from the 9 for a touchdown.
Wells, who occasionally stepped in as a wildcat quarterback for the Chargers, tied the game with a 4-yard run early in the second quarter, but Fruita pounded out another methodical drive. Armony Trujillo scored from 3 yards out with 4:50 until halftime to make it 14-7.
Fruita had another chance to score before halftime, but with the clock winding below 1:30 and the ball just outside the red zone, Bessert rolled right and threw the ball straight to Chatfield's Santiago Ramirez.