Grand Valley has frightful night, falls to Olathe
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PARACHUTE, Colorado ” Grand Valley defensive lineman Joseph Joyner summed up the running style of Olathe’s David Rhodes as well as anybody could.
“He’s a brick wall,” the Cardinal senior said.
Rhodes, the 5-foot-9-inch, 213-pound bruiser of a back, wore the Grand Valley defense down Friday night, helping his team to a fourth-quarter rally and a 36-14 win in Parachute. The senior carried the ball 38 times for 262 yards and three touchdowns as the Pirates claimed the 2A Western Slope League title on the final night of the regular season.
“It’s awesome,” Rhodes said. “This is what we’ve been looking forward to all season. We knew it’d come down to this game.”
Both teams entered the night 6-0 in league play.
Just as one would expect in a matchup between two of the state’s best Class 2A schools, the game was close most of the night. It wasn’t until Grand Valley put the ball on the ground twice in the fourth quarter, giving way to Rhodes TD runs of 4 and 20 yards, that the final margin spread substantially.
All told, the Cardinals fumbled the ball away three times and turned it over once by interception.
“We constantly put the ball on the ground,” said Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson. “Whether we fumbled snaps or were fumbling the ball, we just put the ball on the ground too much. We killed ourselves on a lot on drives.”
Johnson, who’s been recovering from post-appendectomy infections for about a month and a half, coached from the booth on Friday.
While he didn’t enjoy everything he saw from his press-box perch, he knows there’s time to correct mistakes by the time the playoffs roll around next weekend.
“You know, we still have the state playoffs. I still think we’re a heck of a team,” Johnson said.
We’ve got another week to go to work. I think if we put things together, we’re a good team. We just had one night where we let things get away from us a little bit.”
Grand Valley appeared to have the momentum in the game’s early going, forcing a Rhodes’ fumble on the night’s first play from scrimmage. Taking over deep in Olathe territory, the Cardinals drove to the 8-yard line before fumbling the ball right back to the Pirates.
After the teams traded punts, Olathe went on to scored with 9 minutes, 23 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter when quarterback Garhett Jurgens ran in a TD from 10 yards out.
Jurgens capped another drive nearly eight minutes later and, following a Levi Nation two-point conversion run, and the Pirates were up 15-0.
But Grand Valley showed some fight just before the half when quarterback Ryan Gallegos hit William Waugh with a short pass over the middle and Waugh outsprinted the defense for an 80-yard TD reception.
The Cardinals misfired on the extra-point try to head into intermission trailing 15-6.
After a scoreless third quarter, Olathe put the ball into the end zone next when Rhodes rumbled 7 yards for a score with 11:39 left in the game. His burst capped a four-play, 26-yard drive set up by a long punt return by Dylan Markley.
It took another big play, but Grand Valley answered quickly when Eric Glaze returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards up the left sideline for a TD. Gallegos hit Landon Paskett with a two-point conversion pass to pull the Cardinals to within a TD and conversion.
But that was as close as the Cardinals, who finished the regular season with an 8-2 overall record and 6-1 mark in 2A WSL play, would get as the turnover bug surfaced to ruin their night.
“Turnovers are huge in football,” said Olathe head coach Ryan Corn, whose team will enter the state playoffs on the heels of a 10-0 regular season. “You can benefit from them, you know. We gave up a few to them and then we stopped them with those turnovers.”
Turnovers and a bruising running attack fronted by Rhodes.
“We’ve got some good running backs,” Corn said. “We’ve got two good running backs, and a quarterback that keeps you honest. We’re going to run the ball until they stop us. That’s our philosophy.”
Marvin Rivera added 62 yards on nine carries for Olathe, while Jurgens finished with 28 yards on 12 carries as the Pirates racked up 353 yards on the ground and went to the air with a pass just once.
Colton Cowan paced the Cardinals with 44 rushing yards on 12 carries, while Gallegos finished up the night 7-of-14 passing for 101 yards.
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