The Grand County High School Red Devils spread the ball around offensively and put forth a strong defensive effort, allowing only one offensive touchdown as they defeated Gunnison 28-14 in Moab on Friday, Sept. 9.

The Red Devils found paydirt quickly as Trent Elmore scored on a 15-yard run 5:09 into the game, following his touchdown with a point-after, to give Grand a 7-0 lead.

After Grand forced Gunnison to punt, quarterback Taylor Horton connected on the next play with Brayden Schultz on a 91-yard touchdown pass, putting the Red Devils up 13-0.

Just as quickly as the Red Devils scored their second touchdown, the Bulldogs scored their first, on a 98-yard kickoff return the following play, cutting Grand’s lead to 13-7. The Red Devils and Bulldogs traded fumble recoveries and defensive stands before Dakota Johnson blocked a Gunnison field goal, leading to a 63-yard touchdown run by Dylan Valerio, followed by a two-point conversion by Nick Downard, which gave Grand a 21-7 halftime lead.

Grand received the ball to begin the second half, marching nearly the length of the field before Horton experienced cramping and coach Dennis Wells went with freshman Bryant Troutt at quarterback. Grand’s drive stalled and the Bulldogs took over deep in their own territory.

Gunnison put together a nice drive of its own, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, which cut Grand’s lead to 21-14. However, Grand responded with a 9-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a 40-yard scoring run from Johnson. With 8:07 remaining, Grand extended its lead back to two touchdowns at 28-14, which was the final score after the next two Gunnison drives ended with a Bruin Meador fumble recovery and a turnover on downs.

Wells said that defensively, it was Grand’s best game of the season.

“Our defense did a lot better than the week before,” he said. “Gunnison is a good spread offense and we were able to disrupt passing lanes and pressure the quarterback. It felt good to execute our defensive game plan.”

Downard was Grand’s leading rusher with 86 yards on 11 carries. Horton had 84 yards on 21 carries, Valerio had 68 yards on three carries, Johnson had 61 yards on seven carries and Elmore had 42 yards on seven carries.

“We don’t have any superstars like we had last year, but we have depth so we’ve got guys who can go in there and get the job done,” Wells said.

The Red Devils have several players returning to full strength after being banged up the better part of the preseason, which will only add to Grand’s depth, Wells said.

Grand opens region play with its homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., versus South Sevier. South Sevier has a 1-3 record through preseason play. The Red Devils won their 2015 meeting 34-6.

“We have to do our homework,” Wells said of the 2016 meeting. “South Sevier is big and strong, and they execute well. It will be a test.”

Wells said the Red Devils have to play at another level in region play.

“I think we’re going to pick it up a notch, be a little more intense, because we have to win all that we can,” he said. “Beaver and San Juan are two of the best teams in the state, so when we’re up against South Sevier, (North Sevier and Enterprise), we really have to take care of business.”

Coach calls game Grand’s best defensive effort of the season

Our defense did a lot better than the week before … Gunnison is a good spread offense and we were able to disrupt passing lanes and pressure the quarterback. It felt good to execute our defensive game plan.

What: Red Devil football homecoming game versus South Sevier

When: Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East