Back at full strength, Titans topple Cowboys |

Back at full strength, Titans topple Cowboys

Jon Mitchell
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – A few extra emotions followed Coal Ridge High School’s football team into Friday night’s Class 2A Western Slope League game against Gunnison. Some other issues got left behind.

The Titans’ defense stepped up big time in the final quarter against the Cowboys, and Coal Ridge’s ball-possession offense took control down the stretch during the Titans’ 26-13 homecoming victory against Gunnison.

“We came down the field on those first two drives pretty much mistake-free,” Coal Ridge coach Scott Parker said. “The kids played well and I’m happy.”

The game marked the return of Parker and several players on the Coal Ridge roster following a two-game absence. Parker was placed on administrative leave from his coaching duties for violating the school’s coaching code of conduct. The players also missed two games for a violation of school policy.

And, of course, everyone on the team is more than eager to put the past two weeks behind them.

“I’d rather focus on tonight’s game,” said Parker, who received a Gatorade bath from his players as the final seconds ticked off the clock. “There’s always emotions going into any game, especially one like this. It’s homecoming and it’s a big league game at home. You want to got those big games at home, and we did that tonight.”

The players had plenty of emotions, too.

“I’ve never been so happy to be playing football in my entire life,” said senior receiver Cody Walls, who finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards on 11 carries.

Senior quarterback Robby Moore scored three touchdowns, the final one coming with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining to essentially seal the win for the Titans (2-2 overall, 1-1 in 2A WSL play). Still, Coal Ridge fumbled the ball six times and lost two of them, giving the Cowboys (3-2, 0-2) a chance to rally.

Gunnison, which won all of its non-league games but lost its first two WSL matchups, was limited to 101 rushing yards. Connor Clark finished 8-for-23 passing for 109 yards and a TD, with six of those completions going to receiver Caleb Wilson.

Moore got the Titans on the board early, capping a 12-play, 67-yard drive to open the game with a 2-yard jaunt into the end zone with 6:44 left in the first quarter. Three plays later, Ty Weller returned his interception of Connor Clark 18 yards to set up a 10-yard TD run by Moore for a 13-0 Coal Ridge lead.

The Cowboys responded, as passes of 13 and 17 yards from Clark to Caleb Wilson set up Jesse Duft’s 9-yard scoring run. But another interception by the Titans’ defense, this one returned 35 yards by Walls to the Cowboys’ 11, set up a 6-yard halfback pass into the end zone from Walls to Darik Brown for a 19-6 halftime lead.

Gunnison responded, though, pulling within 19-13 on a 20-yard, third-quarter TD pass from Clark to Steven Starkebaum. But, of the first 25 plays run in the fourth quarter, 21 of them were run by the Titans. That led to Moore’s decisive score, which put Coal Ridge right back in the thick of the league title race after a loss to Roaring Fork the previous week.

“We had a lot of emotions going into this game,” Walls said. “This will help us, it’s the right kind of emotion to keep on going.”

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