RANGELY I The Panther football team lost in Collbran on Friday and will host the defending state champion Caliche Buffalos on Friday at Yeager Field, with the kick off scheduled for 7 p.m.
Rangely scored 22 points against Collbran, but it wouldn’t be enough to beat the Plateau Valley Cowboys, who scored 34 against the Panthers.
“They are starting to click together, and every week they are getting better,” head coach Paul Fortunato said of his team, which is currently 1-3.
The Panthers got off to a slow start and trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter but answered early in the second, when freshman quarterback Devin Ramirez scored a touchdown from 13 yards out. Ramirez then connected with Troy Allred for the two-point conversion and the Panthers led 8-7.
Coach Fortunato said the Cowboys answered with a long drive, which ended with a touchdown but no extra points, yet they took the lead at 13-8.
“We turned around with a drive powered by running back Kiki Ruiz, who scored on a six-yard run to finish the drive,” Fortunato said.
Ruiz also ran in the two-point conversion and gave his team the lead 16-13. However, it would again be short lived because the Cowboys would score on their next possession and take a 20-16 lead at halftime.
The Cowboys would put the game away early in the third quarter with a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half and then, after forcing the Panthers to punt, they returned it 50 yards for a touchdown and a 34-16 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Rangely was not finished scoring as Ruiz opened the fourth quarter with a 75-yard run “up the heart of the Cowboys’ defense for a touchdown,” he said. “We were unable to get something else going after that,” making the final score 34-22.
Ruiz finished the game with 34 carries and he gained 160 yards, scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Ramirez completed six of 14 passes, including five to Allred, for 63 yards. Jesse Powell also caught a pass for a 28-yard gain.
Ramirez and Nakoma Bailey led the Panthers with 10 tackles each while Jimmie Sherman was in on eight, Robert Osteen finished with six, Ruiz and Allred each had five, Nych Deleon had two and Layne Gillard added one.
“Freshmen like Devin Ramirez and Robert Osteen are having to play big roles, along with several underclassmen to help the smaller group of upperclassmen get the job done,” Fortunato said.
The Panthers will be challenged Friday against the defending state champion Caliche Buffalos, starting at 7 p.m.