It was simple for Grand Junction Central running back Dusty Sanchez: “We should have had them.”
Durango High School, however, defeated Central 27-13 on Saturday at Stocker Stadium, going on a 27-0 run after Central took a 13-0 first-quarter lead on touchdown runs by Dusty Sanchez and Noah Sanchez.
But the play that seemed to bury Central came in the third quarter.
Leading 14-13, DHS (3-4, 1-1 Southwestern League) faced a fourth-and-goal from the Central 5-yard line and went for it. And Durango quarterback Jeremy Szura rolled and found Lane Joseph in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“We’re making progress. We are definitely a work in progress, but this is what you need after a two-game skid,” DHS head coach Greg Wyatt said on the KPTE 99.7 FM postgame radio show.
It doesn’t get easier for Central (0-7, 0-2 SWL), which will play at No. 1 Wheat Ridge next week before taking on Grand Junction and Montrose.
“It’s a big challenge,” said Central linebacker Conner Williamson, the Warriors’ leading tackler who has been plagued with turf toe for more than a month. “I know a lot of schools will overlook us, but if you watch the film, you can see we’re still a physical football team. We’re not a team you can just roll over.”
Central led 13-0 in the first quarter, controlling the game in every aspect.
“Everything was working,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “Play-action pass, we ran the ball; we even throw a pick, but it gets called back because they tackled the receiver before the ball got there. Even that was going for us.”
But Durango took a 14-13 lead into halftime, scoring two second-quarter touchdowns. If things already weren’t going Central’s way, it became worse when the Warriors’ defense lined up with 10 men on the field for the opening play of the second half.
McGee said linebacker Colton Miller, who started after recovering from a sprained ankle, was injured and could not go onto the field. McGee said he did not know the details of the injury, but Miller was icing his shoulder.
A bad omen, perhaps, but Central still had a chance down 20-13 after Durango’s fourth-and-goal touchdown midway through the third quarter. Price hit Josh Weller for an 18-yard completion in which Weller slid and dragged his knees inbounds. Coupled with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Durango, Central had the ball at the Durango 26.
But on a third-and-11, a botched snap that Sanchez recovered for a five-yard loss and a Central 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty made it fourth-and-30 at the 46. Central went for it. Price threw a lateral to Weller, who threw an incomplete pass intended for Ed Becoat.
McGee pointed to not taking care of the details as a reason for Central’s floundering effort.
“That’s why we are 0-7 and why we don’t have a win because we don’t do the little things right,” McGee said.
Central is hoping for an upset win before the end of the regular season.
“This year definitely will get to you,” Dusty Sanchez said. “It’s my first year playing for Central – first year of football, really – so it definitely doesn’t feel good right now.”
Durango will return home to play Fruita Monument at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always pretty, but we’ll take it,” Wyatt said.
The Durango Herald contributed to this report.