The Paw Print
The Adams State College Grizzlies made history on Saturday, playing their first night home game in program history, but couldn’t find a way to get the victory against the rival Fort Lewis College Skyhawks, dropping the 45th annual Musket Game 14-7 in front of a crowd of more than 2,200 at Rex Stadium.
In a low-scoring, 60 minute defensive battle, the Grizzly defense played yet another stellar game, giving up only 255 yards to the Skyhawks, including only 10 yards on the ground.
The young Skyhawks defense came to play as well, and held the Grizzlies’ offense to only 236 yards and a single touchdown by sophomore running back Thomas Brown late in the first half.
Said Skyhawks head coach Cesar Rivas after the game, “It was nice to see our defense play as solidly as they did. We have a young program, and a lot of players on our defense are learning new positions. I would have liked see us stop the run a little bit better than we did, but overall, we had more points at the end of the game than (ASC) did, and that’s all that matters.”
The eventual game winning score came with 9:16 left in the third quarter, when Skyhawks sophomore quarterback connected with junior wide receiver Justin Garman on a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Neither team was able manage much of anything offensively until the Skyhawks put together an impressive 15-play, 90-yard drive that started near the end of the scoreless first quarter and carried over into the second quarter. Sophomore running back A.J. Miko capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 11:35 left in the second quarter to break the scoreless tie and give the Skyhawks a 7-0 lead following the successful point after by junior kicker Rich Rodriguez.
The Grizzlies, who had a solid first drive of the game derailed by a failed fake field goal attempt, were kept at bay by the Skyhawks, and were forced to punt on each of their next three possessions.
Junior linebacker Rocco DeLorenzo picked off Jenkins to give the ball back to the Grizzlies, but the Skyhawks responded, forcing a Brown fumble on their own 12-yard line that was recovered by freshman linebacker Brett Barnes to thwart any hopes the Grizzlies had of tying the game on that drive.
The Grizzly defense was able to force a three-and-out after the turnover, and a crucial 29-yard punt return by sophomore wide receiver Scott Kellogg gave the Grizzlies excellent field position on the Skyhawks’ 31-yard line.
The Grizzlies capitalized on the key special teams play, and three plays later Brown ran in for a touchdown from 23 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 following the extra point with 1:35 remaining in the half.
The teams opened the second half by exchanging punts, and the Skyhawks capitalized on excellent field position handed to them after a short 26-yard punt by sophomore punter Dustin Bolt.
The Skyhawks started their drive on the Grizzlies’ own 45-yard line, and Jenkins, who finished the game 28 of 45 for 245 yards, quickly found a rhythm, connecting on 4 of 6 attempted passes to three different receivers before connecting with Garman for the eventual deciding touchdown.
Each defensive unit stood strong for the rest of the game, forcing a combined 10 consecutive punts before the Grizzlies took possession deep in their own territory with 2:27 remaining on the clock.
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Eggleston, held to one completion longer than 10 yards up to this point, completed consecutive first down passes to junior wide receiver Delton Prescott, Jr. and Kellogg before an illegal forward pass penalty nixed a longer 29-yard completion to Kellogg.
Eggleston would follow an incompletion on the next play by connecting with senior wide receiver Trevor Zott for 15 yards and a first down across mid-field before the Skyhawks’ defense stood their ground and broke up four consecutive passes to seal the victory.
Eggleston, who was relieved by backup quarterback Sean McDougal on the first drive of the second quarter, finished the game 18-for-31 for 131 yards.
When asked after the game if a change of signal callers was a possibility, coach Marty Heaton responded, “Right now, we’re not looking at a change in personnel. We just need to execute our game plan.”
Brown, subbing for injured starter Terjean Saffold, led the Grizzlies on the ground, racking up 84 yards on 15 carries and the only touchdown for the Grizzlies on the evening.
Sophomore defensive back Jeremiah Van Valkenburg continued his stellar play in the month of October, collecting a career-high 10 tackles.
Sophomore defensive back Tim Muhovich led the Skyhawks with 11 tackles, while Harrison Hunter, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week, added 10 tackles while breaking up three Grizzly passes, including the final pass of the game that sealed the win for the visitors.
The Skyhawks broke a four-game losing streak, improved to 2-5 overall and 2-4 in the RMAC, and earned the Musket, the Springfield military-issue rifle that serves as the traveling trophy between the two schools.
“We’re a young team and every win is important for us right now,” said Rivas, “But winning the Musket Game, and seeing how special it is to bring it back to Durango, to see how special it is for the fans, the alumni, and the boosters…It’s a great feeling to see the positive impact it has on the community.”
They will attempt to notch another victory when they host Chadron State on Saturday in Durango.
The Grizzlies, now 3-5 overall and 2-4 in the RMAC, will attempt to get their season back on track Saturday in Golden when they face-off against RMAC co-leader Colorado School of Mines Orediggers.
The Orediggers, the top-ranked scoring offense in the conference, now stand at 7-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in the RMAC after their 39-13 victory over Western State last Saturday.
Saturday’s kick-off at Campbell Field is scheduled for noon.