The Fruita Monument High School football team had plenty of yards Friday but nothing to show for them after the first quarter.
With all the momentum and a stifling defense, it was only a matter of time until the Wildcats started rolling. And they did in the second quarter, with 20 consecutive points that propelled Fruita to a 34-9 win over Grand Junction at Stocker Stadium,
After ripping off 95 yards in the first quarter, including 72 on a 14-play drive that came up empty at the 3, the Wildcats stayed methodical.
"That was very frustrating," Fruita coach Cameron Ross said. "We want to be able to finish drives and that's one of the things we're working on. There were a lot of nerves from the coaches and the team, and we worked those out, and that's what you saw in the second and third quarters."
The long drive ended when quarterback Zach Rush was tackled by Jack Gilfilan on fourth down. But Rush and the 1-2, inside-outside punch of Treyton Queen and Cason Gisner started taking a toll on the Tigers' defense.
Gisner, starting his second game at tailback, scored two touchdowns on runs of 10 and 35 yards and also caught a 25-yard TD pass.
The senior said having that inside-outside attack keeps opposing defenses off balance.
"It's great to have two different styles of running backs, because they have to prepare for two different things," Gisner said. "Now teams have to prepare for inside and outside and that adds variety to our offense."
Gisner finished with 164 yards on 22 carries and Queen had 122 yards on 19 carries.
After the disappointment of the first drive, Rush, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 98 yards, lofted a gorgeous spiral into the arms of Gisner in the end zone for the 25-yard TD and a 6-0 lead.
Rush set up the next TD with a quick laser shot to tight end Kaden Jolley in the middle of the field and the big guy bulled his way to the 10 for a gain of 40 yards.
Gisner then scooted around the right side for the 10-yard TD.
Jaden Street set up the third second-quarter touchdown when he intercepted a third-down pass by the Tigers' AJ Mariz and returned it 31 yards to the 4. Queen did the rest, battering up the middle for the score and a 20-0 lead.
Grand Junction (2-3) got on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal by Christian Hafey as time expired in the second quarter to make the score 20-3.
The kick was set up by a 28-yard pass from Mariz to Andy Smith, who made a leaping catch of the jump-ball pass at the 10.
Fruita Monument (3-1) upped its intensity in the second half, especially on defense.
Led by Jolley, Delson Pyland and Max Belshe, among others, the Wildcats completely shut down Grand Junction.
Fruita forced three straight 3-and-outs and limited the Tigers to only 16 yards in the second half until Ross pulled his starters in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to keep the score low and keep our energy up," Jolley said. "It's great when the whole defense plays well and we can count on everybody."
He said the key to every game going forward will be how well they play as a defensive unit.
"It's insanely important, defense is the biggest part of this team," he said.
Ross agrees: "We kind of pride ourselves on being a good defensive team. We knew our defense was special and I think we're showing it."
Fruita forced a 3-and-out to start the second half, then changed the scoreboard again when Gisner broke free through a huge hole, made a quick cut to the left was went 35 yards untouched for the score.
Later in the third quarter, the Wildcats went on a 69-yard, 11-play scoring drive, with Queen showing some quick feet running between the tackles, including a 7-yard run on fourth-and-five.
Queen later strolled into the end zone on a 1-yard run for a 34-3 lead.
Grand Junction made the score 34-9 on a 34-yard TD pass from Mariz to Gilfilan late in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats had 260 yards in total offense in the first half and only had one punt in the game, coming with 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.