Meeker falls to 1-1 in league

MEEKER — The Meeker Cowboys lost their first Northwest League game last Friday in Starbuck Stadium, falling to Paonia by a 24-8 score. The loss evens the Cowboys’ league record at 1-1 and their season record to 3-3. Meeker will play in the Rio Blanco County championship this Friday in Rangely as the opponent for the Panther’s homecoming.
The Cowboys trailed 10-8 at halftime last Friday but the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to seal the victory.
“We played hard and were right in it but they made a few big plays that made a big difference,” Cowboy head coach Shane Phelan said.
The Eagles started the game with a big play, returning the opening kickoff 54 yards to the Cowboys’ 29-yard line. The Eagles scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth and three and made the extra point for an early 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys put together an eight-play, 73-yard drive, which included runs from senior Bubba Mazzola and juniors Mitch Jacob, Tyrell Gerloff and quarterback Colten Brown. Brown also connected with junior receiver Brock Campbell and twice with senior wideout Trenton Schindler, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to cap Meeker’s first offensive possession. Brown ran in for the two-point conversion and the his team took an 8-7 lead, with more than six minutes to play in the first quarter.
Brown broke-up a pass attempt on the Eagles’ next possession and forced them to punt two plays later.
Meeker started a 14-play drive on the their own 17, gaining four first downs but ended after a holding call and the ball being stripped away. Paonia’s Justin Smith stripped the ball from Brown and returned it for a touchdown, which was called back on a penalty by the Eagles.
Meeker senior Caleb Ball recovered an Eagle fumble on the next play but the Cowboys were unable to capitalize and forced to punt four plays later.
The Eagles took a 10-8 lead after a 31-yard field goal and although the Cowboys moved the ball to the Eagles’ 11-yard line, the score didn’t change before halftime.
After receiving the kickoff to start the second half, the Cowboys turned the ball over on downs after moving the ball to the 50-yard line for their own seven. Meeker’s defense held the Eagles but were caught unprepared for a fake punt, which resulted in a 58-yard touchdown.
The Eagles put the game away after an interception, then a 75-yard touchdown run by Paonia senior Josh Burns, for the final score of the game, with 1:18 left to play in the third quarter.
Mazzola finished the game with 134 yards on 18 carries, while Jacob added 58 on 12 rushes.
Schindler caught seven of Brown’s 12 completions in 26 attempts for 93 yards, while Brown was credited with 168 yards through the air, including 51-yarder to sophomore speedster Cole Steiner.
“Nothing is settled yet with one league loss,” Phelan said. “We are still in good shape, we just need to keep playing hard and winning games.”
The Cowboys will travel to Rangely for the Rio Blanco County championship held on Yeager Field this Friday, starting at 7:30 p.m. This week is Rangely’s homecoming.
“Rangely has a good bunch of kids and an outstanding quarterback, with a lot of good receivers to throw to,” Phelan said. “Records don’t matter, this is a Meeker-Rangely game. We look forward to good, hard-fought game.”