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MEEKER I Down 24 points to the defending state champion Cedaredge Bruins at one point in the first half of their homecoming game, the Meeker High School Cowboys pulled within one (at 31-30) late in the fourth quarter. However, the home team would not be victorious.
“We struggled from the get-go, got a little flustered and dug ourselves a big hole in the first half,” head coach Shane Phelan said. “We were down by 24 with four minutes to play in the first half, then we were within one late in the game, so I was pleased with their effort.”
The Cowboys received the opening kick but were unable to move the ball and turned it over on downs at their own 18-yard line. The Cowboys’ defense held the Bruins from reaching the end zone, but they were able to get on the scoreboard with a 30-yard field goal.
The Cowboys again turned the ball over on downs and the Bruins would score a touchdown this time and lead 10-0 with 4:33 left to play in the first quarter.
The Cowboys were forced to punt on their next possession and the snap went over punter Raul Lopez’s head and was recovered on the 3-yard line, from where the Bruins would only need two plays to score another touchdown and lead by 17.
Meeker had to punt on their next possession, and the Bruins started driving down the field in the rain when Jake Phelan intercepted a pass at the 3-yard line, only to fumble the ball back to Cedaredge on the next play at the nine-yard line. Cedaredge would score again on fourth down to lead 24-0 with 6:07 left to play in the first half.
Cowboy senior Taylor Slaugh, who had to leave the game on a stretcher, recovered a fumble with 3:50 left to play in the first half, but the Cowboys would not be able to capitalize.
Meeker’s defense got the ball back after forcing a punt with 1:32 on the clock, when Phelan hit Tristin Pelloni for a 35-yard gain. Meeker moved the ball to the 3-yard line when Phelan ran it in on fourth down for a touchdown, then added the two-point conversion to make the score 24-8 at the end of the first half.
Meeker forced the Bruins to punt after their first possession in the second half and the Cowboys went to the air.
Phelan pitched the ball to running back T.J. Shelton, who threw it to Lopez for a 50-yard gain only to be called back on a holding penalty. On the next play, Phelan faked the pitch and threw it himself to Lopez again, this time for a touchdown. Phelan ran in the two-point conversion and the Cowboys trailed 24-16.
Cedaredge scored on a long run on their next possession to take a 31-16 lead.
The Cowboys would move the ball down field and Phelan scored again to make the score 31-22 going into the final quarter.
Meeker’s defense held again and forced another punt, which Pelloni retuned to the 50 with a face mask penalty and 11:07 to play. Phelan connected with Lopez for a 24-yard gain, and J.C. Henderson ran the ball to the one. Phelan ran in for a another touchdown and two-point conversion to pull within one, with eight minutes to play.
Cedaredge started at the 20 and put together a 70-yard drive, including five first downs, taking more than seven minutes off the clock, when the Cowboys allowed the Bruins to score from the 11 with 35 seconds left to play.
“They put together a long drive and we couldn’t stop them,” Coach Phelan said. “We let them score to give us the opportunity to try and tie the game but that didn’t work out either.”
Cedaredge secured the 38-30 win with an interception.
The Cowboys only gained 80 yards (Phelan 55, Henderson 13 and Shelton 12) on the ground and Phelan completed eight passes for 188 yards, and he led the defense with 18 tackles and an interception.
Lopez caught three passes from Phelan for 108 yards and intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards on defense. Freshman Casey Turner was in on 14 tackles and Henderson was in on 10.
“We can’t worry about Cedaredge now; we have to prepare to take care of Roaring Fork and focus on the things we can control,” Phelan said of Meeker’s next opponent in Carbondale. “Roaring Fork is a much-improved team, but they will give us a chance to get back on track.”