A disastrous beginning to the second half against the Millard Eagles on Friday, Oct. 24 resulted in a 34-13 loss by the Red Devils in the first round of the 2A playoffs to conclude the 2014 season.

Leading 14-7 early in the third quarter, the Eagles extended their advantage back to two scores with a 61-yard touchdown run from Derek Brunson. The Eagles extended their lead to 28-7 just over a minute later on a 12-yard run from Brunson after the Eagles recovered the ball on a pitch from junior Dalton McElhaney that sailed over senior running back Ronnie Dolphin’s head.

The Red Devils continued their disastrous third quarter on their next two offensive drives, which both ended in interceptions by Millard’s Austin Wardle. Wardle returned both interceptions for touchdowns, however the first was called back on an illegal block. The second one stood and the Eagles were unsuccessful when they faked going for the extra point and tried passing for a two-point conversion, leaving them up 34-7.

“That’s the key to the game was those turnovers,” Red Devil football coach Dennis Wells said. “We had five turnovers with those three interceptions and two fumbles; they only had two turnovers.”

The Red Devils reclaimed some momentum and hope early in the fourth quarter when junior Brendan Bennett returned an interception for a touchdown. The Red Devils’ fake field goal two-point conversion attempt also failed, leaving the deficit at 34-13.

After a failed onside kick, the Red Devils forced a punt. But the ensuing 13-play drive took about six of the remaining eight minutes off the game clock and ended in a turnover on downs with just over two minutes to play. The Eagles ran out the clock to seal the victory and advance to the quarterfinals versus undefeated San Juan in Blanding this weekend.

After stopping Grand on the game’s opening drive, Millard went up 7-0 on a 14-yard run by Brunson with 7:57 remaining in the first quarter. The Eagles then forced a Grand punt, but turned the ball over on downs after a fake punt of their own on fourth-and-10 was snuffed out by the Red Devils.

In a game one-upmanship, the Red Devils attempted basically the same fake punt play on fourth-and-5, but were snuffed out by the Eagles, who took advantage by scoring early in the second quarter on a 16-yard run by Gerardo Ruvalcaba to go up 14-0.

The Eagles nearly went up 21-0 on their next drive as they had a receiver open deep, but an intentional pass interference by senior Koby Sobremesana forced Millard to settle for a 15-yard penalty instead of a long touchdown pass. Sobremesana intercepted the ball on the next play to end the drive, but the Red Devils couldn’t take advantage, turning the ball over on an interception.

After a 47-yard field goal attempt by Millard was no good, the Red Devils got the ball at the 20-yard line and with some big plays and a little help from Millard penalties, marched the ball the remaining 80 yards. They got on the board at 14-7 right before halftime on a 9-yard run from Dolphin.

Wells said he felt like that touchdown gave the Red Devils some momentum going into the locker rooms.

“We kept it close down only 14-7 at halftime,” he said. “I honestly felt like were going to come out in the second half, get a stop and go down and score to tie the game, then it’s anyone’s game.”

Even with only 17 seconds remaining, Millard twice almost scored before halftime, taking the kickoff back deep within Grand territory before Sobremesana ran the returner out of bounds, then completing a Hail Mary pass which was negated by a penalty. The half ended when Millard quarterback Skyler Cranney dropped the ensuing snap and dove on top of the ball.

Offensively, the Red Devils generally struggled to move the ball, but had a few sustained drives. Dolphin and Sobremesana each rushed for 22 yards, while McElhaney added 12 yards on the ground.

McElhaney and Dolphin split passing duties and McElhaney went 5-for-16 passing for 59 yards and three interceptions, while Dolphin went 6-for-12 for 44 yards.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Red Devil defense only gave up 230 yards, Wells said.

“Our defense played well,” he said. “Take away those 20 points they scored in the third quarter and we’ve got a decent game with a chance to win.”

The Red Devils concluded the season with a 2-8 record, 2-4 in 2A South play. They figure to make strides in their rebuilding process in 2015 as several of this season’s juniors showed strong play at various times throughout the season. The shorthanded Red Devils were also forced to rely heavily on sophomores and freshman, which shows in the outcome of this season, but may serve the Red Devils well in the future because of the experience.

“I think we got quite a bit out of what we had,” Wells said. “At the end of the season we had only 12 juniors and seniors on the roster and we fought hard all the way to the end … Only 12 upperclassmen leaves one extra; we had no depth.”

Grand finishes season with 34-13 loss to Millard in first round of playoffs

I feel like we got quite a bit out of what we had. At the end of the season we had a total of 12 juniors and seniors on the roster and we fought hard all the way to the end.