Hayden football loses to resilient West Grand team

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By the numbers

West Grand 32, Hayden 28

West Grand Hayden

20 First Downs 13

63-325 Rushes-Yards 27-177

6-19-0 Comp-Att-Int 14-25-0

110 Yards Passing 189

435 Total Yards 366

2-18 Punts-Avg. 2-37

3-1 Fumbles-lost 4-4

3-20 Penalties-Yards 5-45

■ Score by quarters

West Grand 12-00-20-00—32

Hayden 07-14-07-00—28

■ Scoring summary

First quarter

WG — 8:04, Nick Ritschard 1 run. (Run fail).

H — 7:11, Dan Engle 61 pass from Mark Doolin. (Doolin kick).

WG — 0:00, Ritschard 15 run. (Pass fail).

Second quarter

H — 9:16, Engle 4 run. (Doolin kick).

H — 6:36, Doolin 1 run. (Doolin kick).

Third quarter

WG — Ritschard 4 run. (Cole Tracy from Ritschard).

H — 6:36, Doolin 2 run. (Doolin kick).

WG — 2:44, Leo Pesch 1 run. (Pass fail).

WG — 0:15, Casey Gore 5 pass from Ritschard. (Run fail).

Fourth quarter

■ Individual statistics

Rushing

WG: Ritschard 39-240, 3TD; Pesch 16-62, 1 TD; Gore 3-8; Will Guess 1-3; Tracy 2-8; Jeremiah Elliott 1-4.

H: Doolin 16-132, 2 TD; Engle 9-42, 1 TD; Aarpm Cramer 1-1; Greg Frentress 1-2.

Passing

WG: Ritschard 6-18-0, 110 yards, 1 TD; Gore 0-1-0, 0 yards.

S: Doolin 14-25-0, 189 yards, 1 TD.

Receiving

WG: Cole 5-104, 1 TD; Kiley O’Brien 1-6.

S: Engle 7-130, 1 TD; Cramer 1-16; Isaac Bridges 1-5; Frentress 2-4; T-Lane Mazzola 1-11; Jake Hockett 1-17.

— To West Grand quarterback Nick Ritschard, there were a lot of guilty parties.

There were a lot of people who doubted the Mustangs after an 0-3 start to the season. There were other teams, members of the media, whispers around the league and maybe even some in Kremmling who doubted West Grand.

But no longer.

Behind Ritschard and a pesky defense, West Grand took control of the league Friday in Hayden, picking up a come-from-behind 32-28 win.

“It was just reading the paper,” Ritschard said. “We started off bad, but we played three really good teams. We felt the disrespect and wanted to prove all the doubters wrong.”

The Mustangs did that in large part because of Ritschard and a ball control offense that dominated the time of possession and methodically moved the ball down the field. The Mustangs ran 81 offensive plays to the Tigers’ 52.

West Grand also turned four Hayden turnovers, including three second-half fumbles, into 12 points.

“People probably thought we were down,” Mustangs coach Chris Brown said. “But we played a lot of good people. We played pretty good tonight, and we won the turnover battle. Playing those early-season games helped us tonight.”

Ritschard was a workhorse. The quarterback had a huge effort, rushing 39 times for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He was also 6 of 18 passing for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Hayden, however, had control at halftime. The Tigers led 21-12 thanks to a pair of Dan Engle touchdowns, including a 61-yard catch and a touchdown run by Mark Doolin.

Hayden got the ball to start the second half, but Doolin fumbled on the second play, giving West Grand the ball.

Six plays later, Ritschard scored from 4 yards out to cut the lead to 21-20 after the 2-point conversion.

Hayden answered with a 2-yard Doolin run to take a 28-20 lead, but the Mustangs responded with a 13-play drive, including a perfect 3 for 3 on third downs, to cut the margin to 28-26.

Hayden went three-and-out, and Ritschard found Casey Gore from 9 yards out for a 32-28 lead.

“I don’t know what to expect in a game,” Ritschard said. “I’ll just do whatever.”

Hayden looked like it would answer. The Tigers got the ball with 11 minutes and 17 seconds left in the game and started to move it.

The Tigers ate up almost four minutes off the clock and had moved the ball to the Mustangs' 30-yard line when a botched exchange between Doolin and Engle gave the ball back to West Grand.

“Going into a game like this, every possession is so important,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. The fumble took the air out “of us a little bit. Going into that drive, we were thinking, 'Take some time and move the ball.' We were right where we wanted to be. It was just a matter of taking care of the ball.”

Hayden got the ball with 2:01 on the clock at its own 4-yard line but eventually turned the ball over on downs.

West Grand (3-3 overall, 3-0 in league) now controls its destiny. The team next plays Vail Christian, which lost to Rangely on Friday night. With a win, West Grand will wrap up its third straight league title.

Hayden (4-2, 2-1) plays at 1 p.m. Oct. 13 at South Park. The Tigers still have a good chance at the second spot in the league and a home playoff game.

“It all depends on how we handle it,” Baumgartner said. “There have been plenty of teams that have been beat and bounce back. We have to make up our minds if that’s what we want to do.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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