Turnovers doomed the Soroco football team for the second consecutive game, as the Rams dropped a league contest to the Meeker Cowboys, 16-0, at Oak Creek's William Meek Athletic Complex.
After turning the ball over on their first two possessions against Grand Valley last week, the Rams coughed up the ball on two of their first three possessions Friday. The fumbles led to nine points for the Cowboys (3-2 overall, 3-0 in the league), who remain undefeated in Western Slope League play. The loss dropped the Rams to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in league play.
The Rams finished the game with four turnovers, but it was the third that might have been the most costly.
Trailing 9-0 with just more than one minute left in the first half, Soroco's Dustin Ager burst through the Cowboys' special teams unit and blocked a Meeker punt. Andrew Radebaugh recovered the ball for the Rams at Meeker's 37-yard line.
A 21-yard pass from Rams quarterback Zach Schaffner to Tony Iacovetto moved the ball to Meeker's 16-yard line. But three plays later and with just seconds left in the half, Schaffner's pass into the end zone was tipped by a Rams receiver and intercepted by the Cowboys at the 1-yard line. Meeker ran out the clock and entered halftime holding onto its 9-0 lead.
Meeker was able to dominate the Rams in the second half, controlling the clock with powerful runs by running back Justin Jacob, who finished the game with 128 yards on 22 carries. As a team, the Cowboys rushed for 217 yards.
The Cowboys took a 16-0 lead toward the end of the third quarter, when Jacob capped an eight-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run on third-and-five.
In the second half, the Rams could get no closer to the end zone than Meeker's 36-yard line. Rams coach Gary Heide said the Cowboys were able to physically overtake his team after the intermission.
But the game might have played out much differently had it not been for first-half turnovers, Heide said.
"We came out with some fire offensively, but again the first two series were stopped because of turnovers," Heide said. "I think that was the big difference, that we didn't score on those two drives. When you don't score it takes something out of you."
Senior running back Matt Iacovetto led the Rams with 33 yards rushing on 11 carries. Ben Montoya finished the game with 28 yards on 10 carries, and Carl Remick gained 26 yards on five carries.
Schaffner completed just one of his six passes and was constantly hounded by Cowboys defenders whenever he dropped back to throw.
The game was played in low temperatures and sloppy conditions, with areas of the field becoming puddles of water.
The conditions were no excuse for turning the ball over four times, Heide said.
"We knew it was going to be wet," he said. "It was the same conditions for both teams."
The Cowboys only turned the ball over once, and Soroco was unable to capitalize.
Heide said the game was disappointing after a strong week of practices, but his team refuses to give up with just more than half of the season complete.
"We haven't quit yet," Heide said. "We're really looking forward to the next four games."
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