A stead second half helped Mountain Range claim a 16-13 win Oct. 11 against Westminster. In a sloppy first half in which the only touchdown came on a pick-6 by Westminster sophomore Yeshua Jaramillo, …
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A stead second half helped Mountain Range claim a 16-13 win Oct. 11 against Westminster.
In a sloppy first half in which the only touchdown came on a pick-6 by Westminster sophomore Yeshua Jaramillo, the Wolves claimed a 6-3 lead heading to the break.
After regrouping — dedicating their new half, fresh start to the running game — Mountain Range tallied 27 of their 28 plays in the running game. The lone throw — a 23-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Koby Hudson to junior Connor Hinkle. The Hinkle score came off a deflection of senior Logan Dexter on the first drive of the second half.
“Tonight, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Mountain Range coach Todd Riccio said of his ground game. “Staying ahead of the chains mixing things up here and there, and we will throw it when we have to throw it, but we have faith in the o-line.”
Setting the tone with backs Justin Levinson, Anthony Vieth and Justin Hixson, the Mustangs put pressure on the Wolves to make play after play with long, drawn-out drives. Westy senior linebacker LJ Montoya responded with seven tackles in the second half to try and keep the trio at bay. Still, a 17-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 10 minutes and 37 seconds seemed to put the contest out of reach at 16-6 with 6:59 remaining. However, winners of three-straight, Westminster wasn’t done yet.
Following with a 68-yard TD pass from junior Robert Barron to senior Gage Ware, the road team cut the lead to three with 3:55 left and all three timeouts remaining.
Kicking the ball deep (instead of onside), the Westy defense stood firm with a 3-and-out, getting the ball at their 20-yard line with 3:12 left.
Hoping to stand stout as they did all night, Mountain Range recorded three sacks on their first four plays — all three by junior River Stout.
“The whole defense is playing great, but River is that speed rusher for us — he’s come a long way. Last year as a sophomore, he didn’t play a down of defense,” Riccio said. “He’s bought into being a hell of a defensive end, and he’s worked his butt off in practice, learning more techniques, and you saw it tonight. He’s a phenomenal athlete, a great kid, and even our long snapper too. He was impressive tonight.”
Despite the sacks, penalties allowed Westy to extend the drive. Eventually moving the ball down to the Mustangs’ 15-yard line — in large part to Barron’s accurate passing — MR didn’t blink, thanks to a strip-sack from senior Luke Kylander with 14 seconds left. Scooping up the football, junior Ezekiel Burge controlled the ball and clinched Mountain Range their second win in a row.
“Our defense has been awesome all year long. I mean, those kids are flying around, they have come together, believe in what we are doing, and they have been doing it for a few years now. They are playing their butts off, and they give us everything they got, every down, and it’s awesome to see.”
Riccio discussed postgame that the confidence of his team, particularly offensively, began Sept. 28 against Denver East in the second half. Riding that momentum, MR heads into the short week with an identity and rhythm.
“Tonight, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Staying ahead of the chains mixing things up here and there, and we will throw it when we have to throw it, but we have faith in the o-line. The thing is we have to keep grinding, keep staying healthy.”
When asked about what his group could take from this conference win against a Westy team that had won three straight before the affair Friday night, the second-year coach stated: “Just belief and confidence. To see these kids and how excited they are getting because it has been tough around here for a few years. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort these kids are giving us, and that’s all we have ever asked of them. It’s fun to watch.”
Westminster anticipates to bounce back Oct. 18 against Northglenn on the road while Mountain Range will host Prairie View Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
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