The Fossil Ridge High School football team is ready to be the big, bad bully on the block.
The SaberCats want to make the big plays at the biggest moments to allow them to win the close games.
First test: A+.
Fossil Ridge wasn’t always perfect Thursday night, but the SaberCats slugged out a 21-17 win over Rocky Mountain at French Field to move to 2-0 for the first time in school history.
“We do expect to do big things, but we also expect to take hits every once in a while,” junior Dylan Johnston said. “But no matter what, we’re going to keep battling it out.”
Fossil Ridge was punched in the mouth early, with Rocky Mountain (0-2) taking a lead on a first-drive touchdown as Clayton Baca raced 87 yards off a Tyler Hyland screen pass.
The teams then traded touchdowns and Rocky Mountain led 14-7 entering the final minute of the first half.
It was the perfect start for a young team.
Then Fossil Ridge flexed the muscles of an experienced, talented squad driven to become the top dog in the city.
Johnston blocked a punt, recovered it and ran it back to Rocky Mountain’s 5. Two plays later, quarterback Griffin Roberts connected with Owen Arkin to tie the game.
The first play after the ensuing kickoff, Fossil Ridge’s Dorian Vega forced a fumble and the SaberCats recovered.
On the very next play, Roberts threw a strike to Brady Russell to give Fossil Ridge a 21-14 halftime lead after scoring two touchdowns in 11 seconds.
“You just have to find a way,” first-year SaberCats coach Zak Bigelow said. “It comes to a point where you can’t make excuses. All you can tell yourself is, ‘I’m going to find a way to get it done.’ That’s what our kids did over and over again.”
Rocky Mountain wouldn’t go away, though. Hyland was passing with efficiency and poise, and the Lobos stifled Fossil Ridge in the second half.
Rocky Mountain cut the deficit to 21-17 early in the fourth. The Lobos had one drive to try and win, but a booming punt and a penalty pinned them inside their own 10, and they were unable to mount a two-minute drive.
“We’re disappointed,” Hyland said. “We need to go back to the locker room and make sure (the young guys) know we’re fine. We just made a couple mistakes. We got better than last week and that improvement is what we’re looking for.”
Hyland finished with 240 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with 77 rushing yards. Baca finished with 121 yards receiving.
Roberts had 89 passing yards and touchdown passes to Donovan Murphree, Arkin and Russell. Russell and Arkin both had late sacks to secure the win.
“I know those kids, the look in their eye in those moments of adversity is they’re ready,” Bigelow said. “That’s super-inspiring.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
FOSSIL RIDGE 21, ROCKY MOUNTAIN 17
Fossil Ridge 7 14 0 0 — 21
Rocky Mountain 6 8 0 3 — 17
RMHS — Clayton Baca 87 catch from Tyler Hyland (kick missed), 11:15.
FRHS — Donovan Murphree 3 catch from Griffin Roberts (Evan Bergerson kick), 1:56
RMHS — Jaden Wolfe 27 catch from Hyland (Jordan Yancey run), 3:35.
FRHS — Owen Arkin 5 catch from Roberts (Bergerson kick), 00:41.
FRHS — Brady Russell 21 catch from Roberts (Bergerson kick), 00:30.
RMHS — Maxwell Poduska 34 kick, 10:41.