by Scott Boyle
Moab isn’t a great place to do a lot of baking, on account of it is already blazing hot.
But the Monticello Buckaroos (you know, cool climate, warm welcome), were the ones raising blisters on the Grand County Red Devils Friday night, as the Bucks posted an amazing 29-20 comeback road win to open the 2015 campaign.
The Bucks came back from a 20-8 fourth quarter deficit to grab the momentum building victory.
However, the game didn’t start that way, as the Red Devils feverish start had the parched Buckaroos on their heels to begin with as the Red Devils pushed the young and inexperienced Bucks around a bit in the early evening Moab heat.
Grand took the ball on their first possession after a 50-yard kickoff return and in five plays, traveled 27 yards to paydirt.
Four and a half minutes into the game and the Red Devils led 6-0.
Monticello’s offense was still trying to jell, too, with their first three possessions ending in a punt, a fumble and an interception,
Late in the second half, when the Red Devils scored again and added a two point conversion to lead 14-0 with just 4:44 left in the half, things were looking raw for Monticello.
But Alma Beh woke up the Bucks with a rousing 30-yard kick-off return to the Red Devil 30 yard line. Three plays brought the Bucks to the 10-yard line poised to score and raise the leaven a little, but a miscue in the backfield forced a fumble, which the Red Devils recovered.
Then the Buckaroo defense, rose to the occasion, and pushed the Red Devils back into the endzone, where Paul DeAnda tackled the Red Devil runner for a safety and new life and the first score of the season for the Bucks.
Two plays after the kickoff, the Buck defense rose again, forcing a fumble. Then Buckaroo QB – or one of the two Buckaroo QBs – Brayson Wilcox found slotback Andrew Torres with a perfect pass and Torres did the rest, dashing 41 yards to the endzone.
Just like that it was 14-8, new life for the Bucks, and they were doing the kneading.
First half stats showed the story, with Grand rushing for 83 yards and passing for 42 more. The Bucks managed just 34 yards on the ground in the half and 60 in the air, most coming on that one 41 yard TD pass.
The third quarter was a stalemate mostly. Although the Buck offense controlled the ball for long stretches of time, they couldn’t get it in the endzone and Grand did on a long pass play. After three quarters, it was 20-8.
The fourth quarter was all Buckaroos. First the defense got to baking, holding the Devils to just seven total yards in the quarter, forcing punts and Shandon Bradford picking up his second interception of the game.
Grand only mangaged two yards rushing in the fourth quarter, after having 100 previously.
Then the offense got picked up on the torrid pace, going on a 13-play, 71-yard drive. With Wilcox and Talon Black trading off at the QB spot and mixing the run and pass cleverly, the Bucks scored on a nifty 21-yard Torres scamper just 30 seconds in to the fourth. Suddenly, it was 20-15 and the excitement is building.
After the defense held, the Bucks went 67 yards in seven plays to grab the lead, 22-20. After a long run by Alma Beh got them close, Beh scored from one yard out. Then Talon Black split the uprights for the PAT with 7:13 left.
Grand, stuffed again by the Buck defense, gave up the ball on downs, and a 51-yard drive culminated in another Torres dash, this time 37 yards to paydirt.
The comeback was complete, the toothpick showed the baking was done and the Bucks were 1-0 on the season.
The Bucks ended with 219 yards rushing, 154 in the fourth quarter alone, and 93 yards passing, completing eight of 18 throws.
Grand managed just 102 yards rushing, only 19 in the second half, and 77 yards passing.
Significantly, the young and inexperienced Bucks showed their discipline, only being flagged by the referees one time, which was declined by the Red Devils. Grand had six penalties for 55 yards.
Torres was the stat leader on the night with 94 yards rushing and two TDs, 65 yards receiving and one TD, and 45 return yards for 204 multipurpose yards.
Beh had 146 yards total, 57 rushing and 89 receiving, with one TD and Thomas Anderson had 60 yards rushing and nine receiving.
Wilcox was 7-13 for 78 yards in the passing department. Nolan Freestone had three receptions. It was total team effort, sparked by the defense for the Buckaroos.
This week, the varsity lines up against the San Juan JV on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Monticello.