Untimely turnovers and penalties doomed the Grand County High School (GCHS) football team on Friday night, Sept. 28, as the Red Devils fell 21-16 at 2A South foe Enterprise in a region tilt.
The Red Devils (4-3, 2-1 2A South) were expected to beat the Wolves (3-4, 1-2), despite the game being in Enterprise, but Grand junior quarterback Bryant Troutt lost three fumbles at or beyond midfield, and found themselves on the wrong end of several officiating calls.
“(We just made a lot of) mistakes,” GCHS football coach Dennis Wells said. “All the freaking penalties and turnovers. Things didn’t go our way.”
One controversial call in particular, with the Red Devils clinging to a 16-15 lead early in the fourth quarter, would have given GCHS two points on a safety, and given the Red Devils the ball. About to be sacked in the end zone, the Enterprise quarterback appeared to throw the ball away while in the pocket, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty, which would be a safety since it occurred in the end zone. The officials, however, decided that the quarterback’s arm was hit by a GCHS player, altering the trajectory of the ball as it would have otherwise landed near another Wolves player. Enterprise got out of the shadow of their own end zone with a big pass on its next play, and a few moments later, finished off the drive with the go-ahead touchdown with 9:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense shut them down all night, except for one pass play we couldn’t seem to figure out, that they kept having success with,” Wells said.
Troutt fumbled at the Wolves’ 46-yard line on the ensuing possession, and Grand turned the ball over on downs after forcing a three-and-out. The Red Devils got the ball for the last time with about 40 seconds left, but using the pass exclusively, were not able to get the ball to the end zone before the final buzzer.
“If we play these guys 10 times, we beat them nine times,” Wells said. “But this time, they took care of the ball and limited mistakes, and we didn’t.”
The two teams spent the entire game within one score of each other, and every score in the game gave its team the lead. Grand got on the board first as senior Trent Elmore caught a screen pass and scampered 65 yards to put Grand up 6-0 after sophomore kicker Dante Wells’ P.A.T. sailed wide. Elmore was Grand’s key player, both offensively and defensively, sparking the team with a handful of big offensive plays, as well as a pair of big quarterback sacks, defensively.
After Enterprise took advantage of a big kick return and responded with a touchdown on its next drive for a 7-6 lead, the Red Devils and Wolves traded defensive stands until the last play of the half, which was a 38-yard field goal by Wells to put Grand up 9-7 at halftime.
Both teams had impactful defensive plays with Enterprise recovering a Grand fumble near midfield to end one drive, while the Red Devils got a punt downed at the 1-yard line by sophomore Jimmie Johnson, as well as a big sack by Elmore that forced a Wolves punt. After trading punts back and forth one more time, Grand junior Brayden Cloud returned Enterprise’s punt to their 35-yard line, leading to the go-ahead field goal.
In the third quarter, after another fumble near midfield, Enterprise went up 15-9 with a touchdown and two-point conversion, aided by a personal foul call against the Red Devils. On the ensuing drive, Elmore broke free on a long run, setting up Troutt for a 1-yard touchdown run, giving Grand back the lead at 16-15.
In addition to the untimely turnovers and penalties, the Red Devils struggled with their passing game, suffering from several poorly run routes and dropped passes.
“It’s definitely something we’ve got to work on,” coach Wells said.
Despite losing to the Wolves, the Red Devils still control their 2A South fate with home games remaining against both teams ahead of them in the standings: Beaver (5-2, 2-1) and San Juan (5-2, 3-0). Victories in both games would result in the Red Devils winning the 2A South title outright, while losses in either one or both games would potentially cost the Red Devils playoff positioning.
The Red Devils play the Beavers first, on Friday, Oct. 5, in Moab, where coach Wells said it’s important for the Red Devils to limit mistakes and take care of the ball. Grand’s regular season finale will be at home versus San Juan on Friday, Oct. 12. Both games are at set to kick off at 7 p.m.
Turnovers, penalties haunt the Red Devils
“Our defense shut them down all night, except for one pass play we couldn’t seem to figure out, that they kept having success with.”
When: Friday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
Where: Grand County High School football field, 608 S. 400 East
2A South Standings
San Juan: 5-2, 3-0
Beaver: 5-2, 2-1
Grand: 4-3, 2-1
North Sevier: 4-3, 1-2
Enterprise: 3-4, 1-2
South Sevier: 3-4, 0-3