The Grand County Red Devils stifled the Carbon offense and moved the ball at will on their way to a 48-7 season-opening victory on Friday, Aug. 23 in Moab.
Senior Koi Cook scored three touchdowns for Grand, including a 20-yard fumble recovery for the Red Devils’ first score of the year. The Red Devils faced 2nd-and-9 from the 34-yard line when senior Cameron Taylor carried the ball to the 20, fumbled it. Cook recovered it near the Carbon sideline and scampered the rest of the way to the end zone, giving Grand an early 7-0 lead.
After Grand forced a Carbon punt, seniors Jacob Francis and Layton Call connected on a 31-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the Red Devils’ ensuing drive to give Grand a 14-0 lead.
The Grand defense forced another three-and-out on the next Carbon drive and Francis broke away for a 28-yard touchdown run to cap off a 4-play, 62-yard drive and give the Red Devils a 21-0 lead with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter.
The Red Devils continued to stonewall the Carbon offense, not allowing a first down in the opening half, and their own offense scored twice more in the second quarter on a 5-yard run by Cook and a 6-yard run by Taylor to go into halftime with a 35-0 lead and a continuously running clock because of the 35-point mercy rule.
The Dinos achieved their only two first downs of the game and mustered their only score on the opening drive of the second half, as the Red Devil secondary was confused and out of place, Red Devil football coach Dennis Wells said, allowing Carbon to connect on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jarod Lessar to Zac Hathaway.
The Red Devils answered back with a scoring drive of their own and put the mercy rule back into effect when Cook capped off the ensuing drive with an 11-yard run to put Grand on top 42-7. The Red Devils played underclassmen most of the fourth quarter and managed to score on a 1-yard run by freshman Nolan Beeman late in the game. Francis missed the point-after attempt, finishing 6-of-7 for the night on extra-point kicks, making the final score 48-7.
Francis completed 9-of-11 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to lead the Red Devil offense. Cook Carried the ball 11 times for 110 yards and two scores and caught one pass for 18 yards while Taylor caught four passes for 49 yards and rushed five times for 53 yards and a touchdown, making it three Red Devils to eclipse 100 yards of total offense.
“Offensively we stayed with our blocks and took care of the ball,” Wells said, adding that the Red Devils’ offense has an arsenal of weapons, which made them harder to stop.
In contrast, the Red Devils held the Dinos to 94 yards of offense, including only two yards on the ground. The Red Devils, however, were penalized 11 times for 80 yards, compared to three penalties for 25 yards against Carbon.
Francis said it felt good to win the season opener and the Red Devils can carry some momentum forward.
“It’s a good building block,” he said. “Not perfect, but we can build on it.”
Wells said making sure the defensive backs are in the correct places in coverage and cutting down on penalties will be points of focus in practice this week as the Red Devils try not to repeat the beginning of the 2012 season, in which they defeated Carbon 42-0 before being beaten 42-7 the next week by Emery. Wells said he is confident that the senior leaders on this year’s team will not allow any laziness or complacency in practice and the team will come out fired up when they play host to the 3A Spartans on 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30.
“We can’t get too excited about this victory,” he said. “That happened last year and we came out flat the next week against Emery and got beaten pretty bad.”
Taylor said the team still has a bitter taste in it’s mouth from the humble pie Emery force-fed them last year.
“I remember it pretty well; it wasn’t our best game,” Taylor said of last year’s game against Emery. “We’ll have to buckle down and focus in practice this week.
“We didn’t hit the week hard,” Francis said. “We were lazy at practice. We’re not going to be lazy this week and we’re going to give ’em some payback.”