The Soroco Rams and West Grand Mustangs battled until the game's final play Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the final play was Jesus Garcia's 40-yard field goal attempt that fell short. That left the Rams on the short end of a 21-19 score.
"We can kick it from that distance," Soroco coach Gary Heide said. "We just came up short."
The loss drops the Rams to 2-1 on the season and 0-1 in the Western Slope League. West Grand improved to 2-1.
Despite the loss, Heide liked a lot of what he saw Saturday night. Most notably, he said, was his team's refusal to quit after falling behind 21-13 with nine minutes left in the game. The Rams responded to West Grand's score by putting together a 15-play, 72-yard drive that ended when Johnny DeCosta scored from 1-yard out.
"I knew we could come back. They did not give up," Heide said. "That last touchdown drive can be a springboard for us for the rest of the season."
DeCosta's score came with 1:29 left in the game and pulled Soroco within two. The Rams went for a two-point conversion, but DeCosta was dropped for a loss.
That forced Soroco, which had just one timeout left, to attempt an onside kick. But West Grand recovered and tried to run out the clock. West Grand quarterback MacKenzie Widener took a knee three straight times.
That left the Mustangs facing a fourth down from their 31 with just five seconds left in the game. Widener attempted to run the clock out, but the Rams caught him in the backfield for an eight-yard loss with two seconds remaining.
That's when Heide sent in Garcia and the kicking team. Garcia's kick was online, but it fell in the end zone 10 yards short of the goal.
"We were pretty fortunate to get out of here with the win," West Grand coach Chris Brown said. "Soroco has changed things up some. They are a really good team that is really well-coached. It was a fun ballgame."
Soroco beat West Grand in nearly every statistical category. The Rams had more yards, more first downs and fewer penalties than the Mustangs. Senior Nick Rangel led the way for Soroco, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Bryan Spaeth added 53 yards on 13 carries.
The Soroco defense held West Grand in check for most of the game. The Mustangs managed just 177 yards of total offense. Chase Underbrink led the way with 69 yards on 11 carries.
West Grand got on the board first, marching 58 yards in eight plays on the team's first possession of the game. Widener connected with Taylor Roderick on a 12-yard touchdown pass to put the Mustangs up 7-0.
West Grand fumbled on its next possession, and Soroco wasted no time taking advantage. Rangel busted a run up the middle for 30 yards to make the score 7-6. Unfortunately, the Rams missed the conversion, a point that proved all too important by the end of the game.
The Rams got the ball back soon after their first score when defensive back Ben Crawford picked off Widener on the Mustangs' next possession. That set the Rams up at the Mustangs' 19. It took just two runs by Rangel to give Soroco a 13-7 lead.
That score held up until the opening drive of the third quarter, when the Mustangs marched 57 yards in eight plays to go ahead 14-13.
West Grand got its final touchdown in the fourth quarter by capitalizing on a Rangel fumble at the Rams' 19-yard line. It only took the Mustangs three plays to score on a pass from Widener to Barry Klotz.
That's when Soroco responded with its 7-minute drive.
"West Grand is a tough team," Heide said. "We knew that going in. We don't ever like to lose, but we did a lot of things right tonight. We're 2-1, and we have a big game coming up. The next one is always the biggest."
Soroco plays host to Grand Valley at 7:30 p.m. Friday.