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MEEKER | It was the first league game of the season and the Cowboy football team won it by defeating the Hotchkiss Bulldogs 36-7 last Friday at home. The Cowboys are currently 5-0 and will play another league game in Parachute this Saturday against the always-competitive Grand Valley Cardinals.
“Our kids did well against a big, good and strong football team,” Meeker head coach Shane Phelan said of the competition, which he expects to continue to get better.
Meeker scored all of their points in the first half, including 14 points in the first quarter and 22 in the second. The Bulldogs turned the ball over six times, including four fumbles and two interceptions and Meeker capitalized twice with touchdowns.
“We got the lead early and their turnovers made for some short field possessions for our offense to capitalize on, to our advantage,” coach Phelan said.
Meeker received the opening kick and drove down the field until senior running back Doak Mantle ran in from the four-yard line, after taking almost eight minutes off the clock.
Meeker’s defense forced Hotchkiss to punt its first possession and the Cowboys quickly scored again when senior quarterback Logan Hughes connected with classmate Trapper Merrifield for a 55-yard touchdown.
Colton Wille forced a fumble, which was recovered by teammate Tevin Pelloni on the Bulldogs’ next possession and Mantle scored again, this time on a 14-yard run.
It was Mantle who stripped the ball away from a Hotchkiss player, after Meeker led by 20 points, with nine minutes to play in the first half. Hughes faked a handoff to Mantle and ran in from 25-yards out, then threw it to Mantle for the two-point conversion and the Cowboys led 28-0.
Meeker junior Stephen Walsh made his first of two interception against the Bulldogs, which the Cowboys were not able to capitalize on but senior Jerrick Garza attempted a 31-yard field goal which was blocked.
Meeker’s defense forced the Bulldogs to punt again with less than two minutes to play, when Hughes and Merrifield connected again for their final points of the game, a 45-yard touchdown pass, to give the Cowboys a 36-0, halftime lead.
Hughes, who did not play in the second half, completed 13 of 17 passes, including two for touchdowns and 212 yards, with no interceptions, for a quarterback rating of 157. Hughes’ freshman cousin Ryan Phelan completed two of three passes for nine yards and junior quarterback Kale Burke completed his only attempt for five yards.
Merrifield led the team with five catches for 135 yards and two touchdown, while junior full back Eli Hanks caught four passes for 43 years. Walsh caught three passes for 33 yards, senior Jacob Pelloni caught two and Mantle caught one, while leading the Cowboys with 77 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Defensively, Tannen Kennedy was in on 10 tackles, while Tevin Pelloni was in on nine, Merrifield and Luis Villalpando each were in on eight tackles. Senior Elijah Newman and junior James Amich were each in on five tackles, while senior Garrett Frantz, who recovered a fumble and junior Kale Burke were each in on three.
Meeker will travel to Parachute Saturday to take on the Grand Valley Cardinals and the kickoff has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m.