Up 18-14 on the road in the howling 50-mile an hour southeastern Colorado winds, the Bulldogs had to punt.
Dove Creek quarterback/punter Dalton Randolph kicked the ball deep and then was leveled by a Granada Bobcat. Despite no roughing-the-punter call, Granada was pinned deep at its own 5 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs defense had dominated its 8-man quarterfinal playoff game Saturday afternoon. With the Bobcats on their end of the field and with a backup QB, first-year Dove Creek coach Shane Baughman was feeling good about a trip to the semifinals.
The way we were stopping them on defense, we were shutting them down, he said. There was no reason to change anything.
However, Bulldogs players, coaches and fans excitement would soon turn to sorrow.
Three Granada fourth down conversions later, the visiting No. 8-seed Bulldogs found themselves down 20-18 with less than a minute to go.
Dalton Randolph and the offense moved the football to midfield. But unfortunately, the Bulldogs and their season ran out of time. The 16-seed Granada Bobcats pulled off another upset. This time, in controversial fashion, as Dove Creek fell, 20-18.
A heartbreaker to say the least, Baughman said. We doubled them in first downs. Its one of those games where youre really irritated. It was a bad deal.
The irritation stems from Granadas game winning drive. The Bobcats (7-4) converted a 50-yard, fourth down pass to the Dove Creek (7-3) 45. Facing another fourth down, the Bulldogs were flagged for a 15-yard pass interference penalty that gave Granada a first down at the 30.
We werent anywhere near the guy, said Baughman about the penalty.
The Bobcats faced fourth down again. Their QB was in the shotgun, took the snap and scrambled looking for an open receiver. With the pass-rush closing in, Granadas QB got a block and scampered 30 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead score. But the referees did not initially signal a TD.
We had a guy get blasted in the back, and their quarterback ran in for a touchdown and they didnt call a clip, Baughman said.
The game officials huddled to discuss the play. To the delight of the home fans, the refs eventually ruled the play a touchdown for Granada.
When Dove Creek got the ball back, time would run out on the Bulldogs stellar season.
Some positive news, our kids played their hearts out, Baughman said. They had 11 seniors to our three. Our little guys stuck their nose in there and played their hearts out.
Dove Creek returns a lot of experience for next season. But seniors Cole Baughman, Tyler Ebberts and Randolph will be very difficult to replace.
Tyler and Cole will be tough to replace, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That will be the toughest to replace, coach Baughman said But, we have a good core of juniors coming back. If they can work hard in the offseason, we can be really competitive.
Sophomore tailback Chance Randolph will continue to carry the rock next year and backup freshman QB Jordan Ernst will become the starter.
He throws a good ball, he just needs to get bigger and stronger. Hes a great athlete, Shane Baughman said about Ernst, who recorded a sack in the game.
Dalton Randolph was 12-of-22 passing for 148 yards, three TDs (one rushing) and an interception. The senior also rushed 31 times for 120 yards. On defense, Dalton Randolph recorded a team high 13 tackles and tallied two sacks. Ebberts caught six passes for 118 yards with two TDs at tight end. Junior Dillon Daves had 11 tackles, while Cole Baughman came up with nine stops.
Id like to thank everybody for supporting the team this year with the coaching transition, said Shane Baughman about taking over as head coach in place of longtime coach Kenneth Soper. We wouldnt have had the success we did without all that help.
Now that Shane Baughmans first season as a head high school football coach is in the books, he feels things will only get better.
Next season will be a lot easier, the coach said. Everything I did this year, was a brand new process. We have a great group of kids coming back that will make the transition easier. That sophomore season, they say its as tough as the first one, but I think it will be easier for me.
Notes: Granada plays Saturday at 12-seed Fowler (8-3) at 1 p.m. No. 2 Hoehne (11-0) hosts No. 6 Walsh (10-1) Saturday afternoon at 1. Granada is 3-0 against Dove Creek all-time in the 8-man playoffs.