Wray ekes out 20-19 playoff win over Cardinals
For the second time in as many years, the Wray Eagles slammed the brakes on Grand Valley’s season, and this time they did it with a 20-19 victory in the Class 1A state quarterfinals in Wray on Saturday.The Cardinals (10-1) scored three touchdowns in the first half, taking a 19-14 lead at halftime. Unfortunately for Grand Valley, they never found the end zone again, and Wray (8-3) scored the game-winning touchdown with nine minutes left in the game to advance to the semifinals.”They fought their butts off, and if a few things here or there were different and a few things had gone our way, that would have been a different game,” said Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson. “The effort was there. They battled.”The little things came in the form of a missed extra point, a missed field goal after a 71-yard Colton Cowan run and a few big third- and fourth-down conversions by the Eagles’ offense.
“They were a physical group,” Johnson said of Wray. “We have dominated a lot of teams physically this year, but this was a battle. It was a slugfest.”Wray got on the board first, as quarterback Aaron Orr ran the ball in for a touchdown, and the Eagles went up 6-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.”Their quarterback was the real deal,” Johnson said. “He’s a heck of a runner, a good passer.”Grand Valley took its first lead about two minutes later after Jon Lantz took off on a 53-yard touchdown run to put the Cards up 7-6.
Cody Miles picked off an Orr pass on the following possession, and the Cards converted the turnover into a 2-yard Cowan touchdown run. The snap of the extra point after was low, however, and a quick attempt at a two-point conversion failed, but Grand Valley still held a 13-6 lead.Wray regained the lead with a TD and two-point conversion in the second quarter, but Grand Valley took it right back when Cardinal quarterback Matt Cain found Landon Pasket in the end zone. The two-point conversion came up short, but the Cards went into the locker room with a 19-14 lead.The second half was a different story. The third quarter was scoreless. Grand Valley couldn’t sustain drives, and Wray scored with nine minutes left, to go up by one. “We just couldn’t get them off the field. I think we had seven possessions in the game,” Johnson said. “We scored on darn-near every possession in the first half, then in the second half they held us on our first and on our last-ditch effort in the fourth.”
Tyler Jensen came up with a huge interception on Wray’s two-point conversion attempt, making it so a Grand Valley field goal could win it, but the Cardinals never got within range.Although it ended sooner than the Cardinals hoped, it was a great season for Grand Valley, who went undefeated in the regular season, won the Western Slope League and got its first playoff win since moving up to 1A football when the Cards beat Burlington 42-14 in the first round.”I am so proud of these kids, regardless of when it ended or if it ever did, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Johnson said. “I am just as proud of them today as I was three weeks ago.”While the Cardinals will miss its seniors including Jensen, Cain, Miles, Tyler Harris and Matt Zollars, it does have a promising group coming back including Cowan, who rushed for 185 yards on Saturday and was one of the top running backs in the state.”We have got a great group of kids coming back, and it seems like that is the path we are on. …,” Johnson said. “I think we can build on this and put ourselves in the position to contend for a state title.”
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