Matt and Heidi Cresswell were joined by members of the Red Revils football team during a pre-game ceremony honoring their son Kayden, who died in a car accident in February. [Photo courtesy of GCHS Media staff]

The South Sevier Rams came to town and crashed Grand’s homecoming party, defeating the Red Devils 33-6 on Friday, Sept. 16, in Moab.

The Rams got two quick scores to begin the game, as Carter Anderson punctuated South Sevier’s opening drive with a 19-yard touchdown run, then Tyson Chisholm added a 25-yard scoring run at the end of the Rams’ next drive, giving them a quick 13-0 lead.

After a 5-yard touchdown run from Grand junior Nick Downard cut the deficit to 13-6, fellow junior Brayden Schultz intercepted a pass and the Red Devils marched into the red zone looking to tie the score. But an errant pass from senior Taylor Horton was intercepted and returned 95 yards the other way by South Sevier’s Porter Dowell, and suddenly a potential 13-13 tie became a 20-6 Rams lead before the end of the first quarter.

Grand football coach Dennis Wells said the Red Devils began the game lethargically after the week of homecoming activities.

“We were finally starting to get pumped up and things were going our way, then that interception turned what could have been a 14-13 lead if we went for the two-point conversion into a two-touchdown lead for the other guys,” he said. “We had the screen pass open the whole series right before that if our guys could just catch the ball.”

Grand’s offense was never able to recover from the pick-six, going three-and-out on the next drive. Grand’s defense forced a Ram punt on the next drive, but another Ram interception gave them the ball back. A big passing play and a pass-interference penalty set South Sevier up for Chisholm’s second rushing touchdown, this one from 16 yards out, giving the Rams a 27-6 lead before halftime.

Wells said Grand’s bad night was a case of poor execution on both sides of the ball.

“We weren’t blocking the way we should on offense,” he said. “Defensively, we had guys in the wrong place. They beat us with the counter play all night, even though we ran 100 times in practice to be ready for it. Instead of reading the pulling lineman, they were trying to read the running back.”

Grand was able to move the ball into Ram territory the following drive before a fumble gave the Rams possession. The Rams eventually turned the ball over on downs right before halftime.

Grand’s players tried to muster momentum in the third quarter, successfully executing a fake punt deep in their own territory, but they were unable to capitalize, eventually punting for real. South Sevier took advantage of poor tackling by the Red Devils and scored the final touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass from Caleb Barton to Dowell for a final score of 33-6.

“The second half, I came out and just wanted to pound the ball right at them to establish something,” Wells said. “If I could do it over again, I might have opened it up a little more.”

South Sevier improved its record to 2-3 (1-0 2A South) with the win, while Grand dropped to 3-2 (0-1 2A South). Ironically, the Red Devils defeated the Rams 34-6 in Monroe in 2015.

Grand will attempt to regroup and get back on track in Salina this week as the Red Devils travel to play North Sevier on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. The Red Devils hosted the Wolves for homecoming last year, defeating them 62-0.

Grand will be down two centers and a tight end offensively before they even take the field, but they have enough depth to minimize the impact, Wells said.

“We’ve got to get it going because it’s only going to get tougher,” Wells said. “North Sevier isn’t going to be as tough as South Sevier, but they’re a lot better than they were last year. After that, we’ve got Enterprise, Beaver and San Juan and they’re three of the best teams in the state this year.”

Before the game, Matt and Heidi Cresswell were flown onto the field via helicopter and presented with the newly retired No. 82 jersey of their son, Kayden Cresswell, who died in a car accident earlier this year. He would have been a senior this season.

Rams shut down Red Devil offense; Team retires jersey of No. 82, Kayden Cresswell

We weren’t blocking the way we should on offense. Defensively, we had guys in the wrong place. They beat us with the counter play all night, even though we ran 100 times in practice to be ready for it. Instead of reading the pulling lineman, they were trying to read the running back.