Although the Red Devils led almost the entire game, the win came down to Grand’s defensive line, which held back the Wildcat offense during a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter. In the final minutes of the contest, Richfield advanced the ball to a first-and-goal situation on the Red Devils’ 5-yard line.
Trailing by six points, the Wildcats then rushed the ball on four straight plays, but were stopped cold each time by the Red Devil defensive line. Grand then took over the ball at its own 2-yard line and ran the last few seconds off the clock before celebrating the hard-earned victory.
Grand had capitalized on two Richfield fumbles in the first period to take an early 9-0 lead. Red Devils Kamron Call and Austin Day each recovered a fumble while playing defense. The first fumble recovery led to a 36-yard field goal by Jacob Francis and the second eventually resulted in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Francis to Wesley Rodda.
Grand failed to score on a two-point conversion attempt after the touchdown, giving the Red Devils a 9-0 lead into the second quarter.
Richfield came roaring back, scoring two successive touchdowns – a 9-yard run by Josh Henry and a 27-yard pass from Spencer Henderson to Brennan Thomas – to take a brief 13-9 lead. Wildcat kicker Patrick Kunzler’s extra-point attempt after the first touchdown was no good, but he made the kick after the second TD to give Richfield a four-point lead.
But the Red Devils responded with another touchdown just before halftime, as Francis connected with sophomore receiver Koby Sobremesana for a 49-yard TD pass. Francis kicked the extra point to give the Red Devils a 16-13 halftime lead.
Neither team scored during the third quarter, but Grand was able to put three more points on the board in the fourth, thanks to a 24-yard field goal by Francis. The Red Devil defense, meanwhile, managed to shut out the Wildcats throughout the entire second half.
“They’d scored their two touchdowns before halftime using an unbalanced line,” GCHS head coach Dennis Wells said of the opposing team. “We made an adjustment at halftime to stop their power game. I knew they would have trouble moving the ball because we had their other formations shut down.”
Wells credited his team’s defense for making key plays, especially in the second half.
“Jacob [Francis] did a good job of calling the defensive plays. He had us in the correct defenses all night long,” Wells said. “Our linebackers also improved over last week’s game, and we tackled a lot better.”
Red Devil receiver Rodda said the entire team pulled together to clinch the surprise win.
“It was a total team effort,” Rodda said.
“We shut them down offensively and defensively,” said Sobremesana, who added that the team was able to make the final goal-line stand “because we simply wanted it more.”
Francis led the Red Devils in rushing with 122 yards on 22 carries, and also completed three passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Koi Cook led the Red Devils with 16 tackles, while Preston Walston made an interception.
The victory improved Grand’s record to 3-2 overall, 2-1 in region play, while the Wildcats dropped to 2-3 overall, 2-1 in the 2A South region.
The Red Devils have four regular-season games remaining on their schedule, starting with a Sept. 21 game at Parowan. The Rams are 1-4 overall this season, their only win coming in preseason play against Cedar High’s junior varsity squad.
Even so, Wells said Grand cannot afford to be complacent as the squad prepares to face Parowan.
“They are an option team. We can’t overlook anyone,” Wells said.
“Our win against Richfield has put us in the driver’s seat for the second spot [in region standings],” Wells added. “We just need to take care of business the next four games, one game at a time.”
The Red Devils’ next game in Moab will be their homecoming contest against South Sevier. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28.