Prep football roundup: Leonard carries Rams to 21-20 win over ‘Dogs |

Prep football roundup: Leonard carries Rams to 21-20 win over ‘Dogs

Staff Report

HOTCHKISS – Fortunately for the Roaring Fork Rams, James Leonard’s tank never seems to reach empty.

Having already rushed for over 200 yards in the contest, Leonard broke free for his last 35 yards with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left to lift the Rams to a 21-20 come-from-behind victory over Hotchkiss in Class 2A Western Slope Conference football action here Friday evening.

“We probably ran (Leonard) too much, to be honest,” Roaring Fork head coach Tory Jensen said. “We called his number over and over again, and he responded every time. He runs with a reckless abandon, and it’s awesome.”

The senior back finished the game with 252 yards on 33 carries, but his biggest yards were certainly the last chunk.

Roaring Fork relinquished the lead for the first time in the game when Hotchkiss’s Micah Smith scored from 16 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 20-14 with under six minutes to go in the game.

The Bulldogs missed the extra point, which would prove to be the deciding play in the game.

On the ensuing drive, due to Rams receivers having problems finding the ball in the Hotchkiss field lights, the Rams relied almost exclusively on Leonard and the offensive line.

“We tried to throw once during that drive, and it just didn’t work out,” Jensen said. “The final run by James was just unbelievable, just a great run. He broke a tackle then ran down the sideline.

“The offensive line had an outstanding game,” Jensen added. “The whole group just blew people off the line all game long.”

After Leonard’s touchdown and a successful extra-point kick by Max Green, it was up to the defense to make the 21-20 lead stand up.

Which it did, as the Bulldogs offense couldn’t get past the midfield marker on the final drive of the game.

“The defense just totally rose to the occasion,” Jensen said.

Garrett Jameron had two sacks in the game and “was causing chaos all day long,” said Jensen, who also singled out the solid play of sophomore linebacker Jake Bowman.

The Rams opened the game with the contest’s first two touchdowns in the first quarter. Quarterback Dan Markoya scored on an eight-yard run and Leonard went into the end zone from four yards out for a 14-0 lead.

Hotchkiss evened the game at 14-all with two second-quarter scores – a 65-yard run by quarterback Gates Shaklee and a 32-yard touchdown pass by Shaklee.

“We had some issues with penalties and we didn’t play a very clean game. It was kind of an ugly game,” Jensen said. “But it was a good win for us. The kids had to fight through some adversity and work hard to secure the win.”

The Rams remain undefeated and tied for first place in the conference with a record of 2-0 (4-0 overall), while Hotchkiss drops to 0-2 (1-3).

Roaring Fork travels to valley rival Basalt Friday for a 7 p.m. contest.

BASALT – Gunnison remained perfect in the Class 2A Western Slope Conference and kept Basalt winless on the season as the Cowboys corralled the Longhorns 35-0 Friday in prep football action in Basalt.

Gunnison jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and held a 29-0 advantage by halftime.

Running back Clayton Peetz paced Basalt in the losing effort with 87 yards rushing and also had a pair of fumble recoveries. Adam Gawrys was the top receiver for the Longhorns, with five catches for 61 yards.

Gunnison remains in a three-way tie for first in league standings with a 2-0 record (3-1 overall). Basalt (0-2, 1-3) faces valley rival Roaring Fork Friday at home.

PARACHUTE – Nick Babler scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and it was all Grand Valley would need as the Cardinals downed West Grand 25-3 in a Class A Western Slope Conference football contest here Saturday.

Babler opened the scoring just 3 minutes, 15 seconds into the game, as quarterback Chris Brundle hit Babler with an 18-yard scoring strike. Babler’s second touchdown came with 1:29 left in the first quarter on a 10-yard run for a 14-0 lead.

In the second quarter Brundle tossed his second touchdown of the day, connecting with Brian Evers from 20 yards out.

Chris Johnson paced the Cardinals defense with 11 tackles and a sack, while Danny Manzanares had 10 tackles.

The loss keeps West Grand winless (0-2, 0-3), while Grand Valley improves to 2-0, 3-1.

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