Tigers lose to Grand Junction Central 48-34, sophomore QB shines in 2nd half
In what has been a season of could haves, should haves and would haves, the Tigers fell to Grand Junction Central at home Friday, 48-34.
Summit’s offense combined for an impressive 525 yards on the ground and in the air, but with five turnovers and a handful of big plays by the opposition, it still wasn’t enough.
“It was a very winable game,” Summit head coach Dylan Hollingsworth said after the loss, “a game we could have, and in my opinion should have, won. I don’t say that very often. No disrespect to them, but our kids were every bit as good as those players. If we execute, we win.”
One more quarter and that might have been the case. After a first half that put Central up 35-13 and included three lost fumbles, the Tigers came out in the second half firing on all cylinders.
Led by third-string sophomore quarterback Luke Notaro — with a strong performance in his first varsity game under center — the Tigers outscored Central 21-13. Backup quarterback Riley Beck left the game with concussion symptoms after a big hit late in the first half. He did not return, and will likely miss next week’s games due to high school concussion protocol. Before leaving the game, Beck accounted for 125 of the Tigers’ rushing yards and went two-for-five passing with a 64-yard completion for a touchdown to sophomore Eddie Jain. Beck also turned the ball over three times on fumbles. Starting quarterback Luke Egging broke his thumb two weeks earlier and has not played under center since. Egging has, however, continued to play on defense and as a blocker on offense in the last two games.
For his part, Notaro completed seven-of-12 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, including an over 50-yard pass to Colby Chrisman for a score with 2 minutes remaining in the game. Chrisman finished the night with four receptions for 81 yards. He also returned the opening kickoff in the second half for a touchdown, but it was called back to Central’s 21-yard line after an illegal block in the back penalty. The Tigers were unable to capitalize on the possession when the promising start to the half ended on a Tristan McDonald fumble recovered by Central. McDonald did account for 112 yards rushing, and 34 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.
In addition to his efforts in the air, Notaro also ran for 101 yards, most of which came on a 72-yard rush for a score on a quarterback scramble midway through the fourth quarter.
The promising young quarterback was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise hard-to-stomach loss.
Reflecting on his first varsity appearance under center, he said, “It feels great. There were some mishaps but overall I think we played good over the second half.”
Notaro added that he was nervous at first but eventually found a rhythm. “My team just stepped up and they believed in me, and we believed in each other.”
Hollingsworth commended his young signal caller’s effort, calling his play “fantastic,” especially given his limited number of practice time.
“Unfortunately, because he was third man on the totem pole he hasn’t gotten a lot of reps this season,” Hollingsworth said. “This past week we worked Riley a ton, and I can probably count on one hand the number of reps (Notaro) got. All his reps were mental — standing with us — so to come out and perform like that is very impressive.”
Hollingsworth also said losing Beck will be a blow to the team both on offense and defense moving forward.
Along with the offensive fumbles, the defense let up a number of big plays on the night, including a 25- to 30-yard touchdown reception by Warrior wide receiver Darrion Alton on Central’s second possession. Central’s quarterback later broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Warriors up 21-7 in the first quarter. A 79-yard touchdown run by Central’s Triston Dorrington in the second quarter — after a Beck fumble on Central’s 21-yard line — put the Warriors up 28-7. The Tigers fought back in the second half but were unable to make up the deficit.
The loss drops Summit to 1-6 on the season, 0-4 in-conference. With three games still to play, the Tigers will travel to face Glenwood Friday, Oct. 17. Notaro is expected to get his first varsity start in that game.
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