New beginnings were on the football field in Dove Creek on Friday night.
The visiting Rangely Panthers made their debut in eight-man football. But it was the hometown Bulldogs that were playing their first game with a new head coach since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office.
Perhaps the most important thing that appears to be intact with Dove Creek football after the Ken Soper era, is continued success.
The Bulldogs scored on six of their seven possessions in the first half and ran away from the visiting Panthers for a 64-36 win.
That offense really clicked. Thats credit to coach (Jason) Fury doing all that good work on the offensive side of the ball, new head coach Shane Baughman said. Everybody was real nervous coming in. That team we just played, was a good team. Weve talked about being resilient all week long. The kids did that today.
Dove Creek (1-0) received the opening kickoff and went 63 yards on its opening drive for a score. Tailback Cole Baughman and quarterback Dalton Randolph had 19 and 27 yard runs on the drive. Klancey Krafka capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run up the middle. Tyson Smiths point after attempt was good to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
However, Rangely (0-1) rapidly responded when Chas Byerly returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Kaulan Brady missed the extra point and the Bulldogs held a slim 7-6 advantage.
Dove Creek would come back with a 60-yard scoring drive, though. A major chunk of the drive came on one play by Randolph. The senior faked the option and ran right, then cut across the other side of the field relentlessly breaking tackles, until he was pulled down at the 8. The quarterback followed up his 52-yard run with a one-yard keeper for a touchdown. Smiths PAT was good to make it 14-6.
After Rangely turned it over on downs, the Bulldogs would face a fourth down of their own.
From the Rangely 18-yard line, Randolph found Cole Baughman in the flat; he juked his defender and ran in for the touchdown. Dove Creek held a two touchdown cushion at 20-6 going into the second quarter.
The Panthers needed an answer, so they opened up their bag of tricks. On fourth down from his own 20, Rangely quarterback Toby Gasper took the snap on the punt and ran 26 yards down the right sideline for a first down. Then later facing third-and-16, Gasper heaved a 60-yard bomb that was hauled in by Byerly for a touchdown. Gasper threw a Tim Tebow-like jump pass to Cameron Enterline for the 2-point conversion to pull Rangely within six at 20-14.
However, the Panthers defense had no answer for the Bulldogs powerful rushing attack.
Randolph, Tyler Ebberts and Krafka ran the ball at will and drove their team to the 1-yard line. A bad snap would push Dove Creek back to the 19.
On 3rd-and-goal from the 12-yard line, Randolph rolled left and setup Cole Baughman on a screen pass. The quick running back scored his second receiving touchdown. Nick Jones caught the 2-point conversion to make it 28-14 Dove Creek.
On the next Bulldogs possession, Krafka rumbled 37 yards to setup Jones 19-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed, but Dove Creek led comfortably, 34-14.
Rangely went three-and-out and punted on its next possession. It was time for the Bulldogs to mix it up with a long scoring drive. Beginning at their own 18, Dove Creek drove to the 41 and faced fourth-and-5. Gambling coach Baughman went for it again, and again, the Bulldogs converted when Randolph took it 11 yards up the middle. Cole Baughman would score his third touchdown on a right option pitch from 10 yards out. Krafka ran in the 2-pointer to make it 42-14 Bulldogs.
Gasper and Byerly hooked up again before the end of the half to try and keep the Panthers in the game. Byerly caught a 21-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left. But it was the speedy Bulldogs and their strong offense up 42-20 at the half.
That guys a genius. His offense just works so good. Its spread out so much, said Cole Baughman about his offensive coordinator Jason Fury. Its never one guy getting the ball. Everybody gets the ball and it keeps the offense pretty balanced.
To start the third quarter, Rangely again went three-and-out and punted to the Bulldogs 6. Dove Creek would salt the game away going on a timely 94-yard drive. Randolph threw his third touchdown pass from 12 yards to Ebberts to complete the nearly seven-minute drive. The PAT missed and it was 48-20 Bulldogs, which remained the score going into the fourth quarter.
The youngsters got some playing time and made the most of it. Freshman quarterback Jordan Ernst tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman Case Baughman on fourth-and-3. Sophomore Chance Randolph ran in the 2-point play to make it a 56-20 rout.
The Panthers didnt quit and got a 15-yard touchdown run from Colton Coombs on their next drive. Gasper ran in from three yards out on the 2-point conversion to slice the Dove Creek lead in half, 56-28.
Rangley recovered a fumble on the Bulldogs next possession and converted the turnover into points. Coombs ran 43 yards for his second touchdown and Byerly then scored the two points. The Panthers only trailed 56-36 with 5:05 to go in the game.
Shane Baughman put his starters back in to assure the lead. But the Bulldogs put the ball on the ground again and the Panthers recovered with just under four minutes remaining.
Rangley drove into Bulldogs territory.
Thats when the Dove Creek defense stepped up.
The Panthers fumbled and Trace Myers jumped on the pigskin for the Bulldogs.
Two plays later, Dove Creek put the nail in Rangelys coffin.
Cole Baughman ran 55 yards from the 35 to the Panthers 10. Krafka did the rest with a 10-yard TD run and 2-point conversion in what resulted in the final margin.
It was nice to come out and get this first win, just for their sake, Shane Baughman said. It could have went the other way real easy, but they showed that resilience that weve been talking about. They came out and performed. Im very proud of them. They did a great job tonight.
There were smiles all around on the Dove Creek sideline, but there is work still to be done.
A couple little things. That big kickoff return they got. We got to clean that up, coach Baughman said. Our corners, theyve been playing pretty good defensive ball, but they got burned a couple times deep. But they (Rangely) got some good kids. Credit to them. Thats a pretty good football team. I was pretty impressed with them.
Cole Baughman carried the ball 10 times for 117 yards and had a game high nine tackles. He also caught seven passes for 78 yards. Dalton Randolph rushed for 143 yards on 18 carries and threw three touchdown passes, while completing 12 of 19 throws for 115 yards. Krafka had a game high 154 yards rushing on 18 carries. Austin Carter recorded two sacks on defense.
The play of the offensive line was fantastic. I owe everything I did to those guys, Cole Baughman said. They opened every hole for me. I didnt hardly have to make any cuts. It was just all there. I just ran with what they were giving me and just followed my blocks. Those guys were doing awesome.
Dove Creek will travel to the San Luis Valley on Friday to take on Sargent (1-0, No. 10 Coloradopreps.com) at 6 p.m.