Steamboat Springs running back Joe Dover breaks loose for a good gain in the first quarter at Montezuma-Cortez Panther Field on Friday. Steamboat won, 60-20.

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Steamboat Springs running back Joe Dover breaks loose for a good gain in the first quarter at Montezuma-Cortez Panther Field on Friday. Steamboat won, 60-20.

Dover leads Sailors in win

Steamboat running back helps down Cortez in 60-20 victory



Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Steamboat's Joe Dover sees open field ahead as he takes the first of three kick runbacks for touchdowns in the first half Friday night in Cortez. Steamboat won, 60-20.


Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Steamboat's Austin Hinder finds a hole up the middle for a good run against the Montezuma-Cortez High School Panthers on Friday night.

— An eight-hour bus ride couldn't do it; the Montezuma-Cortez specials team couldn't do it; and even the Panthers defense had little hope of stopping him.

It was Steamboat Springs running back Joe Dover's special night, and nothing was getting in his way.

Dover weaved his way through the Panthers special teams - twice on kickoffs and once on a punt - for three of his four touchdowns in the Sailors' 60-20 win.

"When you have some special athletes on your team, and they're doing special things on special teams, it makes you look like you know what you're doing as a coach," Sailors coach Aaron Finch said. "The reality is, the game Joe Dover had today was very, very special."

When the Panthers got something going, Dover was there to answer.

Dover's first return came on the ensuing kick after the Panthers capitalized on a Sailors fumble at the 25-yard line. The Panthers' Kienan Tibbitts capped a two-play from 12 yards out to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead 23 seconds into the game.

That's when it turned into Dover's night. On the kickoff, he made a move to get by the Panthers kicker on the left sideline and raced 88 yards almost untouched for the score.

When the Panthers' next drive stalled, Dover struck again. The junior took the Panthers' punt back 79 yards for his second touchdown of the game. And he was just getting started.

"It starts with great blocking," Dover said. "We had the right guys in the right places, and that made it easy for me."

When the Panthers cut into the Sailors' 24-7 lead in the second quarter with Tibbitts scoring from 52 yards on a run, Dover came through again.

Like he did with his first kickoff return, he made a move on the left sideline and outraced everyone to give the Sailors a 31-13 lead.

And from there, the Panthers were done. With Dover's third return for a touchdown, the Sailors went on to score 36 straight points. Dover added a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter, and the Sailors led, 39-13, at halftime.

The rest of the Sailors offense wasn't bad, either, as it racked up more than 450 yards.

Sailors quarterback Austin Hinder scored twice on the ground in the second half and threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Alex Wood in the first half, finishing 14-for-22 for 226 yards.

"It's fun to have some good athletes and be able to do a lot out of the spread," Finch said. "This is the first night it's really clicked this season."

It was the right game to have almost everything going their way. Punter Eric Bonner didn't make the trip, and although the Sailors had a few holes in their secondary because he was missing as a defensive back, they didn't punt the entire night and ended just two drives without scores.


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