MEEKER I “It was kind of a thriller,” Meeker head football coach Shane Phelan said of the football game between the Cowboys and the two-time defending state champion Eagles in Paonia last Friday.
After seven lead changes, the Eagles finished on top again, scoring 34 points to Meeker’s 30, in the league contest. The Cowboys will face another tough league challenge this Friday, when they host the Cedaredge Bruins in Starbuck Stadium.
The Eagles scored first, late in the first quarter and took a 7-0 lead into the second period, where Meeker got on the scoreboard, taking an 8-7 lead after the Cowboys used a scrum to push senior T.J. Shelton into the end zone. Shelton also scored the two-point conversion and Meeker led 8-7.
Shelton then intercepted a pass but then the Cowboys fumbled it back and Paonia capitalized with a 65-yard touchdown and took a 13-8 lead.
Meeker got the ball back one more time in the first half, after Paonia turned the ball over on downs, with seven seconds left, when Shelton ran a draw play up the middle and into the end zone from 55-yards away. Quarterback Logan Hughes added the two-point conversion and Meeker took a 16-13 lead at the end of the first half.
The Eagles took the lead back midway through the third quarter but the Cowboys answered with a touchdown of their own when Hughes ran it in from 15 yards out to give Meeker a 22-20 lead.
With five seconds left in the third quarter, the Eagles scored again and took a 28-22 lead and although the Cowboys would score another touchdown, the Eagles led 34-22 when they did.
“It was punch, counter-punch,” Coach Phelan said. “We knew it would be a tough test and we were excited about the challenge. The kids’ effort was really good and we did a lot of this well. This will be a game we can build off.”
Hughes completed 10 of 19 passes for 162 yards and he rushed for two touchdowns. Hunter Garcia caught six passes from Hughes for 89 yards, while Devon Pontine, Sheridan Harvey and Cole Brown also caught passes.
Shelton rushed for 186 yards, scored two touchdowns and he scored two, two-point conversions. Shelton has already rushed for more than 930 yards this season.
Casey Turner, Doak Mantle and Chase Rule led the Cowboys on defense, each finishing with 15 tackles. Turner also caused a fumble, which was recovered by Kash Atwood. Shelton was in on 11 tackles and he had one interception. Dillon Frantz returned to the lineup and was in on eight tackles, as were Pontine and Tyler Ilgen.
The Cowboys will have another “tough test” this week, as the Cedaredge Bruins are a top 10 ranked team in the state.