It finally happened. The Soroco Rams got their first league victory in four years, and they won their first homecoming game in seven years. But before the deal was sealed, the Rams were given a few scares.
Soroco coach Gary Heide was ready for the first scare. He had seen it before on film and warned his players about Plateau Valley's ability to make long kick returns.
"We were ready for it, and what does he do?" Heide said.
Plateau Valley kick returner Darren Minter returned Soroco's opening kick 92 yards to the end zone, just as he had done in the films Heide and the Rams squad watched on film earlier this week.
"I was just thinking we've got to get right back at them," senior tailback Jack Means said.
The Rams got back by scoring the next 28 points in its 28-14 victory over the Plateau Valley Cowboys.
The Rams had no intention of letting the Cowboys hold the lead for long. In the drive after the Minter touchdown, Soroco drove the ball into the end zone in six plays, ending with a 10-yard pass from Kory Babcock to Means.
The drive, which included a mix of passes and rushes, was important in getting momentum on Soroco's side, Heide said.
After the drive, the Soroco defense held the Cowboys to three and out, when the Cowboys attempted a fake punt pass that fell incomplete.
Soroco began their next drive with a fumble, the first of eight in the game.
"It's like we just weren't thinking," Heide said of his player's slippery fingers. "It's simple to hold on to the ball. There are no excuses for that."
When Plateau Valley got the ball back, its running game was often stuffed before or at the line of scrimmage on nearly every drive. Cowboys quarterback Mike Murillo often found himself covered by more maroon than the changing aspens in the surrounding hills. Murillo was sacked several times and held to negative 34 yards on six carries.
Soroco made another long drive toward the end zone in the second quarter. In the drive, C.J. Remick caught a pass and dragged defenders for a 25-yard gain, and he also finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
Babcock finished the first quarter passing 5-8-1 for 94 yards, despite being pressured several times.
The Rams practiced hurry-up offense this week, Babcock said, which helped him play well under the pressure. Also, Babcock said the cornerbacks were playing so tight that they left the middle open for some easy passes.
The second half got off to a fast start when state champion track runner Andy de Ganahl sprinted around defenders, cruising 57 yards into the end zone on a counter rush.
The Rams scored again at the beginning of the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run by Means.
Means finished the game with 62 yards on 19 carries, giving credit to the offensive line. "We've got one of the smallest lines in the state, and they run over people," he said. "If it weren't for them, (the running game) wouldn't happen."
By the time the fourth quarter began, the crowd had gotten rowdy, with several chanting to the Cowboys: "You can't stop the JV!"
But the Cowboys did get past the second-string defense when Murillo threw a bomb to Brian Bristol, who ran in 69 yards for the final score of the game.
With the victory, Soroco improved its record to 3-2 overall, 1-2 in league play.
"We were more prepared for this game than we have been for a game in years," Heide said. "It means a lot to win today."
During halftime, seniors Hallie Shiner and Kory Babcock were crowned Soroco homecoming king and queen.