Roaring Fork proves too much for Cards
CARBONDALE — They could have been league foes. After reclassification, however, a week two meeting between Roaring Fork and Grand Valley became a matchup of teams swapping spots between the 2A and 1A Western Slope Leagues. The Rams controlled the majority of its second game back in a higher classification, picking up its first win of the season, 39-20, over the visiting Cardinals (0-2).
Roaring Fork (1-1) started brightly on both sides of the football. An early 12-yard touchdown by senior Tanner Spence — the first Ram touchdown of the season — set the tone for a game where the home team dictated the line of scrimmage.
A Cardinal fumble on its own 16-yard line gave Roaring Fork a short field. A few snaps later, Sergio Vega marched in from 3 yards away to double the Ram advantage at 12-0.
Early in the second quarter, a good punt return by Jose Lopez set up Roaring Fork with a short field. It took one play for the Rams to cash in as Spence connected with senior wideout Roy Benge for a 30-yard strike.
Just when it appeared that the Rams would run away, Grand Valley gained a foothold back in the game thanks to its defense. Cardinal senior Leon Hernandez intercepted a Spence pass near the goal line, and returned it to midfield. Trailing 19-0, the Cardinals finally had the field position to showcase its ground attack, grinding down inside the Ram 5-yard line and primed to break up the shutout.
In an instant, however, the game turned into a scoring fest.
The Ram defense came up with another crushing blow. Vega took a pass that caromed off a Cardinal receiver and galloped 96 yards to give Roaring Fork a 26-0 edge just a minute before the break.
Oddly, the miscue seemed to ignite the Cardinals. A 65-yard run by Tyler Mathews got the visitors on the board on their very next offensive play. Moments later, junior Alfonso Garcia picked off a Spence pass, setting up a second Grand Valley touchdown on a 1-yard connection between Hernandez and sophomore Robert Roberson.
After a big return on special teams, the Rams had time for one more heave to the end zone. Sneaking behind the defense, then breaking a tackle, Benge took a 46-yard pass from Spence to regain control heading to the locker room. All told, a wild final 1 minute, 15 seconds of the first half had yielded four touchdowns — two for each school.
The Rams took a 32-13 lead into the break.
After the wild swings in momentum, Roaring Fork head coach Tory Jensen tipped his cap to his team’s resiliency, “When things don’t go well, it’s about bouncing back.”
Jensen’s squad settled things down in the third. After the defense returned to their early-game dominance, the Rams finally took a firm grip on the game thanks to a steady drive midway through the third, capped with Vega’s third score of the game from two yards out.
From there, the Rams took the air out of the football. A late Hernandez 1-yard keeper capped the scoring for the Cardinals.
According to Jensen, the Rams’ first win of the year was keyed by their high energy, “I love the emotion we played with tonight, and now we’re going to have to direct it.”
Roaring Fork will return to action next Friday at home against Olathe. Grand Valley will return home on Friday to host a nonleague game against rival Coal Ridge.
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament Saturday.