Grand Valley topples No.10 Aspen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PARACHUTE, Colorado ” Colton Cowan needed maybe an inch. He covered that and an additional 24 yards, 35 inches, busting loose for a 25-yard gain on a fourth-down play that sealed Grand Valley’s 33-20 football win over No. 10 Aspen on Friday.
“I just saw that 1 yard I needed to get, lowered my shoulder, broke a tackle and got a push,” said Cowan, who finished with 154 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
With his team up 26-20 and facing fourth-and-inches on the Aspen 45-yard-line with just 2 minutes, 28 seconds left on the clock, Grand Valley called Cowan’s number. And he delivered the second of two fourth-down conversions on a final drive that spanned 77 yards and chewed up 5:21 of clock time.
A play after the critical conversion, the 6-foot-2, 204-pound feature back took a pitch and sprinted 20 yards up the left sideline for an insurance TD as the Cardinals got the leg up in what will undoubtedly be a down-to-the-wire race for the 2A Western Slope League title.
“We were fired up right after that run,” Cowan said.
Grand Valley improved to 5-1 overall and to 3-0 in league, the latter mark square with Olathe atop the standings. Aspen dropped to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the 2A WSL.
It took only until the opening kickoff for Friday’s meeting of the 2A Western Slope League stalwarts to live up to its billing.
Taking the kick from his own 6-yard-line, Aspen’s Beau Seguin found all kinds of room up the right sideline for a 94-yard kickoff return to the end zone to put the Skiers up 7-0.
But Grand Valley scrapped back behind the bruising running style of Cowan. The prized feature back’s eight carries and 38 yards served as the bulk of a 13-play, 58-yard scoring drive that ended with a Cowan 7-yard TD run that tied the game at 7 with 1:59 left in the opening quarter.
It was a drive kept alive by a gutsy call on fourth-and-8 from the Cardinals’ own 44.
Punter Michael Shepard took the snap and broke up the right sideline, shaking free of a tackle in the midst of a 16-yard run that caught the Skiers off guard.
Aspen responded to Cowan’s TD run with a 21-yard field goal from Daniel Munger with 1:55 left until halftime.
The Cardinals one-upped the Skiers, though, riding high into halftime as quarterback Ryan Gallegos hit Cowan with a pass into one-on-one coverage. Cowan reached up over a smaller defender and broke away for a 55-yard score that put his team up 13-10 at the break.
Grand Valley struck for 13 unanswered points to start the third quarter.
The first of two TDs came when Gallegos found a diving, sideline-toeing Landon Paskett in the right flat on a 4-yard TD reception on the team’s opening drive, one that covered 69 yards.
Michael Shepard intercepted Aspen quarterback Anderson Cole on the Skiers’ ensuing possession, setting up a short drive capped by a 1-yard TD plunge by the Cardinals’ William Waugh. A bad snap on the extra point, the Cardinals’ second of the night, left the score at 26-10.
Aspen responded with a TD late in the third when Cole hit Seguin with a 13-yard scoring strike. The Skiers added a field goal midway through the fourth ” this one a 26-yarder off the foot of Munger.
The resulting count ” 26-20 ” was as close as Aspen would get.
“Nothing but respect to Aspen,” said Grand Valley interim head coach Jeremy Tanner, who’s filling in for Mike Johnson while he recovers from an appendectomy-related infection. “That was a great game of football.”
Johnson did make the game, sitting up in the coaches box helping out his staff. What he saw no doubt made the trip worth it.
On top of Cowan’s bloated rushing total, the senior added 76 receiving yards on three catches.
Gallegos finished the game 8-of-12 passing for 101 yards. Eric Glaze rushed for 40 yards on seven carries and Paskett had two interceptions on defense, including one on the final play of the game.
Seguin paced the Skiers’ offense with 75 yards on 20 carries, while Cole completed 15 of 24 passes for 207 yards.
Aspen gets a chance to help not only itself but Grand Valley next week when it travels to face Olathe, ranked ninth in 2A by RockyPreps.
“All we’ve got to do is come out hitting and beat Olathe and let the cards fall where they may,” Aspen senior Travis VanDomelen said.
While the Pirates and Skiers go at it, the Cardinals will be in Carbondale facing Roaring Fork.
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