Glenwood’s 485 rushing yards too much for Summit Tigers in 36-30 victory
The Summit Tigers knew what they were getting Friday night on the frozen football turf at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge with Glenwood Springs’ smashmouth double-tight, double-wing offense.
On paper, it may seem simple to some. A dive, a counter and a pull — three plays to diagnose and stop. Better buckle your chin strap, stay low and discipline your eyes to diagnose what’s coming at you.
But with a distinct weight and experience disadvantage in the trenches, the Demons rushing attack left the Tigers somewhat stunned and dazed, as Summit was down 16-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“We knew it was coming hard,” Summit senior Al Espinoza said. “And the first couple of plays it just smacked us right in the face. But I believe in my team so much. Man, last year, we lost to this team 41-12. And in this game I saw a completely different team. I’m so proud of how the defense showed up.”
Playing in frigid, high-altitude conditions that dipped into the single digits with the wind chill, Summit scraped back from that early 16-0 hole to take an eventual 23-22 lead Friday night under the lights at Tiger Stadium.
In the end, though, Glenwood’s 485 rushing yards on 59 attempts — attempting a solitary passing play on the night — proved too much for an inspired bunch of Tigers.
Glenwood moves to 3-6 overall and 3-1 in 3A Western Slope League play, while Summit fell to 3-6 and 2-2 in the WSL.
“We jumped out on them pretty good early, but a couple of turnovers and we were tied at halftime,” Glenwood Springs coach Pat Engle said. “We also lost a couple of pretty critical players, and had to come out with our third quarterback of the year.”
Sophomore Ray Rosenmerkel replaced the injured Evan Heyl, and had solid support from the offensive line and backs Garrett Dollahan, Blake Nieslanik and Elliot Walz to allow the Demons to hang on for the win.
“We had some good words said at halftime by the coaches and some players, and then came out and responded, putting up 21 points to their 14. I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” Engle said.
With the Demons up 16-0 after a pair of rushing touchdowns by Dollahan, Summit maintained hope after Nieslanik fumbled at the end of a 35-yard run. Summit junior Kobe Cortright recovered possession at Summit’s 45 with 4:50 remaining in the half. A minute later, Summit junior quarterback Cam Kalaf took an up-the-gut run 24 yards for a touchdown, following it up with a 2-point conversion.
With 2:06 left in the half, Summit continued to dial in their defensive adjustments, Gonzalez blowing up a play in the backfield to force a long third down and Glenwood’s only pass attempt of the night.
Then, with just 29 seconds left in the half, Kalaf found junior wide receiver Kobe Cortright for a 24-yard touchdown catch, capped by a Gonzalez 2-point conversion run to tie the game at 16. For Cortright, his two catches on the drive were season-defining moments of growth after he dropped an open pass to start the drive.
The third quarter was scoreless until the final moments, as Summit started slanting into gaps to disrupt the timing of Glenwood’s blocks. With 1:08 left in the quarter, Nieslanik broke free off tackle for a 15-yard touchdown scamper. But the Tigers kept it to within 22-16 after Summit coach James Wagner barked out a “toss” to help stop the 2-point conversion.
Just 41 seconds later, Kalaf connected to Cortright for a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a read-pass option, capped by a 1-point conversion kick by junior Jaden Smith for a 23-22 Tigers lead.
Glenwood then created enough cushion beginning with a 55-yard rushing touchdown by Dollahan and a 2-point conversion from senior fullback Walz with 8:47 left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Glenwood’s kicker rocketed the football off of a Summit player; the freak play resulting in an effective onside kick and Glenwood recovery.
Glenwood then extended their lead to 36-23 with 4:13 left on a 7-yard touchdown run by Dollahan.
Summit took less than a minute to score on the next drive, Collins catching an 11-yard pass, Cortright catching a 53-yard strike and Summit capping the drive with a speed-option pass play involving Kalaf, Collins and senior Alexi Nevarez.
Drawing within 36-30 wasn’t enough though, as Glenwood converted enough first downs to run the clock out.
The win moved the Demons up to the 21-spot in the RPI rankings, but they would still have to jump five spots after the final game next weekend to make it into the 16-team 3A playoff field.
“Right now, we’re just looking at finishing the way we’d like to, winning four out of our last five games,” Engle said. “That puts us second in league, which is not bad. It’s not what our goal was … but it’s nothing to hang our heads on.”
Glenwood travels to Steamboat Springs next Friday to close out the season.
Glenwood Springs Post Independent senior reporter John Stroud contributed to this report.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.