Gabriel Gutierrez had nothing but open field in front of him. It looked obvious he was about to score Rocky Mountain’s first touchdown of the night to knot things up with Fossil Ridge at 7-7.
Then out of nowhere, 61 yards later, he felt Josh Braunlin’s arms around his ankle and down he went on the 2-yard-line. The very next snap, the Lobos gave the ball away with a fumble. Three plays later, Fossil Ridge would score on a 77-yard screen pass.
And the tone was set.
It didn’t matter Fossil Ridge hadn’t wont a game all year. Friday night, the SaberCats put all their chips on the table and cashed in a 49-10 victory.
“These are good kids,” an emotional Steve Vecchio, Fossil Ridge’s coach, said after the game. “It’s my job as a coach to lose and it’s the players job to win and they did that.
“The storyline was the turnovers. I think one of our coaches told us that we were plus-seven in turnover margin.”
Fossil Ridge efficiently used a balanced run/pass attack out of its spread formation, but was heavily aided all night from sloppy play by Rocky Mountain. The Lobos fumbled the football 13 times, 10 of which came in the first half. Of those, four resulted as turnovers and Rocky threw an additional three interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Giving the ball away has been the biggest issue Rocky’s offense has faced all year. With temperatures in the 20s, Lobos coach Mark Brook didn’t blame any ball security problems on the weather, saying Fossil Ridge faced the same conditions. Bottom line, he said, Rocky just didn’t do a good enough job holding on to the ball.
“Same thing. We just didn’t hold on to the ball and we let a few bad plays early go in the other direction, which got us off our game,” Brook said. “We just didn’t pay attention to certain details.
“Give Fossil Ridge credit. That’s a good team.”
Senior quarterback Travis Avila led Fossil Ridge’s offense with 223 passing yards, 99 rushing and two total touchdowns. He did throw one interception, picked off by Justin Schiller, which setup Rocky’s lone touchdown — a three-yard run by Max McDonald.
SaberCats’ running back Jake Horner added two scores on the ground.
Matt L. Stephens at twitter.com/mattstephens