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RANGELY I The defending league champion West Grand Mustangs rode into Rangely and spoiled the Panther homecoming, 32-26. The Panthers will now prepare to play the Tigers in Hayden on Friday.
“West Grand was a tough opponent, returning all but one from a league championship team last year,” Rangely head coach Paul Fortunato said. “I believe that, minus a few mental lapses, we outplayed them the whole game.”
It was the Panthers who got on the scoreboard first, after holding the Mustangs on their first drive, a big run by quarterback Kaulan Brady, then a touchdown by Lucas Heinle, but it was short lived.
After receiving the kickoff, the Mustangs only needed one play to score on a 50-yard run and tie the score at 6-6 as neither team converted extra points after their touchdowns.
Rangely fumbled on their next possession, but the defense forced the Mustangs to punt, which was fumbled and turned over by the Panthers at their 15-yard line. Rangely’s defense came up big again when Cameron Enterline intercepted a pass in the end zone and the first quarter ended with the score tied at six.
In the second period, the Panthers punted to mid-field, where the Mustangs completed a pass for a touchdown to lead 12-6, but Heinle rushed for another touchdown with 39 seconds left to play in the first half.
The Panthers converted their extra points, when Brady connected with Enterline in the end zone and Rangely led 14-12 at half time.
The Panthers received the kickoff to start the second half, drove down the field and Brady scored on a one-yard run to make the score 20-12 midway through the third period.
The Mustangs answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass on their next possession to pull within two, with one quarter left to play.
Rangely’s defense held the Mustangs, but the Panthers fumbled, giving the ball back at mid-field, where the Mustangs capitalized with another touchdown pass to lead 24-20, with eight minutes to play.
The Panthers gave the ball back on downs, and the Mustangs ran for a 45-yard touchdown on first down, increasing their lead to 12 with four minutes to play.
The Panther defense held again and Brady scored again with 17 seconds left to pull within six, but the Mustangs recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock to win the game 32-26.
“I feel like we defended their offense fairly well except for a couple of times and they definitely made us pay for it,” Fotunato said. “Our game plan was to win it up front and our line did a great job. We controlled the time of possession well, we just shot ourselves in the foot late and they made us pay. The guys played well and I am not disappointed in them, we know what we did wrong and we will have to work on it.”
Brady completed five of eight passes for 115 yards and Enterline caught four for 91 yards. Heinle ran for more than 100 yards (144) again while Ethan Allred rushed for 88 and Brady added 61 yards.
Colt Allred led the defense with six tackles, Heinle and Wesley Goddard each had five and Freddie Ruiz had four. Ethan Allred, who also recorded a sack, Ryan Wilzcek and Kelton Elam each finished with four tackles.
“We have Hayden on Friday coming off a loss to Soroco, but it is a team that will be coached and tough, they always are,” Fortunato said. “We will have to build on last week and try to get back on track Friday in Hayden.”