Soroco running back Matt Iacovetto was speechless as he left the football field after the Rams' 14-8 loss to the Paonia Eagles on Friday night in Oak Creek.
His obvious disappointment was not only the result of losing the big homecoming game, but more the way the Rams lost the game.
"I don't know what to say," Iacovetto mumbled as he left the field. "We had them. ... We did everything right, but we just couldn't pull in out at the end."
The back-breaker came with just more than six minutes left in the game.
After recovering a fumble, the Rams drove inside Paonia's 15-yard line before coming up against a fourth-and-long.
It appeared that the Rams had picked up the yards needed for a first down, but a late penalty flag proved costly.
The penalty for aiding the runner resulted in a loss of down and ended the drive 5 yards short of the Rams goal. Leading 8-6, it only took two plays for Paonia to put the game out of reach.
First, Paonia quarterback Chase Roeber hooked up with wide receiver Matthew Simpson on a 75-yard pass. Simpson finished the Rams off with a 20-yard touchdown run a play later.
Coach Gary Heide said the keys going into Friday's game were for his team to avoid giving up the big play, not turning the ball over and stopping the Eagles' high-powered veer offense.
The Rams did that in the first half by holding senior running back John Laiminger to short gains and closing down the Eagles' passing game.
Roeber had only two pass completions in the half, and thanks to some nice punts by Ram Dylan Knudsen, a muffed punt and an ill-advised fake punt by Paonia, the Eagles spent most of the first half deep in their end.
Unfortunately, the Rams struggled to capitalize on several golden opportunities. Finally, after a failed fake punt, the Rams got on the board.
Iacovetto rambled 13 yards to the end zone, helping Soroco go up 6-0. The extra point failed.
But in the third, the Eagles found all the offense they would need at the start of the quarter. After taking the kickoff, the visiting team marched 67 yards on a 12-play drive to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Roeber carried it with 7:09 left in the third quarter. He tossed a pass to Simpson to complete the two-point conversion to make the score 8-6 in favor of the Eagles.
The Rams were unable to answer, but a fumble with just more than six minutes left gave Soroco new life. Unfortunately the penalty a few plays later would lead to disappointment.
For the Eagles, 4-3 overall and 3-2 in league, the win helped erase the sting of a 14-8 loss to West Grand last Friday night.
The Rams, 3-4 overall and 1-4 in the league, will have to find a way to pick up the pieces before taking on Rangely on Friday.