Summit High School spoils Eagle Valley’s homecoming; wins in a close one
The Summit High School Tigers arrived at Gypsum on Friday, Oct. 29, hungry to win against the Eagle Valley Devils in order to continue their hunt for their first state playoff berth in 15 years. The Tigers had a pep in their step from their 47-0 win against Battle Mountain last Friday night, Oct. 22, but this was not to be outdone by the Devils’ homecoming game energy as the home crowd spurred them on.
The game began with the two teams sizing one another out with no major drives happening in the first quarter.
“Early on it was sort of a defensive battle,” head coach James Wagner said. “We knew coming in it was going to take some time for our offense to figure how we were going to attack what they were doing defensively. So we knew it was going to be a slow start for us.”
The defensive battle continued, yet the Tigers were able put together a solid drive in the second quarter. The Tigers looked like they could score a touchdown, however, the Devil’s defense made the Tigers settle for a field goal instead.
Junior Kyle Kimball sent the ball through the goalposts to put the Tigers up 3-0 midway through the second quarter.
After the field goal, Eagle Valley responded by getting a drive of their own going as senior quarterback Will Geiman marched the offense down the field to throw a passing touchdown. Eagle Valley punched in a successful, rushing 2-point conversion to make the score 8-3.
A series of unsuccessful drives by both teams kept the score still 8-3 at halftime.
“I told them at halftime not to panic,” Wagner said. “It was going to be a fight all the way through, and a game in which we were going to have to finish.”
The Tigers received the opening kickoff for the second half, and it wasn’t long before there were some fireworks for Summit.
At first it looked like the Tigers were going to have to settle for a three-and-out drive, but the offense decided to take a risk to stay out on the field for a fourth-and-1 play.
Senior quarterback Jack Schierholz handed the ball off to Aidan Collins, who found a gap in the Eagle Valley defense to rush for a touchdown. Schierholz was unsuccessful in a 2-point conversion, putting the Tigers up 9-8.
In the fourth quarter Eagle Valley started to wake up for their homecoming crowd and make some offensive plays.
The Devils were able to break past the Tigers defensive line for a rushing touchdown and then sneak in for the 2-point conversion and a 16-9 lead.
The Eagle Valley defense also stepped it up a notch. The Devils shut the Tigers out on their next drive to give the ball back to the Devils offense. The Devils steadily drove with the ball, tiring out the Tigers. At one point the Tigers had a chance to stop the Devils on third and inches, but the Devils converted, extending their drive.
The Eagle Valley drive ended with the Devils celebrating in the end zone after another rushing touchdown put them up 22-9. At this point it looked like the Eagle Valley Devils had gotten the best of the Summit Tigers.
However, Summit’s fight never wavered as the offense put the Eagle Valley defense on their heels with a game-defining drive.
With a little over four minutes left, the Tigers grinded their way down to the the red zone where Collins lined up in the I-formation to rush for the 12-yard touchdown and bring the score to 22-16.
On the kickoff, senior kicker Jackson Segal likely made the play of the game.
First Segal faked an onside kick, but then he went through with it. Segal rushed toward the ball and recovered his own kick, giving the Tigers offense another shot at the game in good field position.
“We knew going in the huddle we wanted to go (with an) onside kick,” Wagner said. “Jackson told me before the play that he was going to go get the onside kick and I said, ‘Let’s go get it baby!’”
With the ball back in Schierholz’s hands, the Tigers put a string of plays together that would silence the Eagle Valley crowd.
The drive ended with junior running back Jack Hodges executing a counter quarterback sweep and rushing into the end zone for a touchdown. After a successful extra point by Kimball, the Tigers were back up 23-22 with little time left on the clock for the now shocked Devils to score.
It was now up to the defense to put the game away for good.
Senior Malachi Ryan tracked the eyes of Devils quarterback Geiman in the secondary to come away with the interception and seal the 23-22 victory for the Tigers. The win keeps the Tigers’ playoff hopes alive for another week.
“Down 13, once we started getting the ball moving it felt like the momentum was now in our hands,” Collins said after the game. “Everyone was so fired up after we recovered the onside kick. We wanted it so bad after that.”
Summit improves to 6-3 overall, and 3-1 in the 3A Central West League. The Tigers will round out their regular season Friday, Nov. 5, in Steamboat Springs as they take on the Sailors.
“I am super proud of my kids and their effort,” Wagner said. “Good teams know how to overcome adversity and know how to finish. For them to be able to go out there and finish a game like that it bodes confidence for them going forward.”
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