In a season marked with a number of pleasant surprises, the West Grand football team found the going tough in Dove Creek this past Saturday and saw its season end with a 39-12 defeat at the hands of the host Bulldogs.
The Mustangs entered the game, riding a six-game win streak that had brought them a league championship and the ninth-seed in the 16-team playoff bracket. It was the first time West Grand had made it to the playoffs in its three-year experience in eight-man football.
From the outset of the game on Saturday in Dove Creek, it was apparent the Bulldogs were primed to defend their home turf. Dalton Randolph, senior quarterback, led the charge as the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on each of its five first half possessions. It was, in fact, a steady diet of Dalton and Chance Randolph all game long.
Dalton Randolph scored three of the first half touchdowns, with Chance adding one score and Cole Baughman tacking on the final score in the first half of action.
Despite being outgained in yardage, the Mustangs actually were hanging pretty tough for much of the first half and drew to within seven points at 19-12 when Nick Ritschard found Casey Gore for a touchdown in the second quarter. After that score, Ritschard narrowly missed Jeremiah Elliott on the PAT pass.
Dove Creek scored first in the game on an 11-play drive that covered 65 yards. All but one play was run by one of the Randolph boys. The Bulldogs scored their second touchdown when they traveled 47 yards in seven plays featuring runs by both Randolphs, Baughman and Tyler Ebberts.
West Grand then utilized a guard-eligible play and Ritschard passed to Reno Davidson for a 51-yard play that was stopped at the 1-yard line. Ritschard then scored from the 1-yard line.
In the second half, the Mustang defense bent but didn't break until less than a minute left in the game when Baughman scored after a 13-play drive that was aided by a grabbing-the-facemask call against West Grand. Up until that point, there had been no scoring by either team in the second half.
After forcing a punt on the first possession of the second half by Dove Creek, the Mustangs put together the start of a nice drive. Ritschard ran for 29 yards and then found Kiley O'Brien for a 27-yard gain. The promise dissipated, however, when the next four plays netted minus three yards.
The Mustangs were moving again on their first drive of the fourth quarter when Ritschard found O'Brien for 29 yards and Gore for 22-yards. That drive too was stopped when Dove Creek fell on a fumble by the Mustangs.
The Bulldogs then consumed much of the remainder of the clock on a drive that culminated in the final touchdown of the game by Baughman.
Ritschard led the team in rushing with 37 yards and in passing with 135 yards. O'Brien caught three passes for 73 yards and Gore caught two passes for 37 yards. Gore also completed one pass for 17 yards.
In other playoff action, Granada upset the top-seeded team from Dayspring Christian, Elbert defeated Haxtun, Fowler upset Norwood, Akron defeated Hayden, Walsh ended the season for Caliche, Kiowa bested Sargent and Hoehne won against LaVeta.