When hosting the sixth-ranked Class 1A team in the state, just a few mistakes here or there can snowball into an avalanche of football misfortune that ultimately proves too much to overcome.
That was the case for the Platte Canyon Huskies Saturday, when a disastrous second quarter led to an eventual 41-0 homecoming game loss to the Colorado Christian Lions.
For portions of Saturday’s contest, there looked to be few differences between the overall capabilities of the Lions, 2-1, and the Huskies, 0-3. And at times, the Huskies controlled the clock with a diverse mix of ball carriers and systematically moved the chains to the delight of a large homecoming crowd.
The Huskies trailed 7-0 after one quarter, but were holding their own with a tenacious defensive effort and enough production offensively to keep things interesting.
Early portions of the second quarter saw the Huskies defense hold on fourth down from their own 15-yard line. The Lions defense returned the favor, then returned the ensuing punt all the way to the Huskies’ 25.
Five plays later, with 8:20 remaining until the half, Lions quarterback Caleb Stockton ran in from five yards out. The point after increased the Lions’ advantage to 14-0.
Stockton, a junior, had a day to remember with three rushing touchdowns and three more through the air. He completed eight of 14 passes for 138 yards. Stockton spread the ball around efficiently to a bevy of capable receivers and backs, and his three touchdown passes were each to different receivers.
The Huskies were forced to punt on their next possession, and the Lions set up shop at their own 40 with 3:49 left in the half. A 31-yard strike from Stockton to running back Joe Dunn, followed by a 24-yard touchdown toss to receiver Kenyon Watties, suddenly left the Huskies in a 21-0 hole.
Another quick possession and punt by the Huskies’ returned the pigskin back to the explosive Lions’ offense, again at their own 40, with 1:22 remaining in the half.
The Lions quickly found themselves at the Platte Canyon 33, where Stockton hit Dunn with a quick dump over the middle. Several nifty moves later Dunn darted into the end zone with 22 seconds still showing on the clock before halftime.
Dunn was also exceptional as the Lions’ featured runner, rushing for 190 yards on 17 carries in the contest.
“I actually saw some better things today on both sides of the ball, but we have to finish drives offensively, and we can’t have lapses like we did in the second quarter,” said Huskies Head Coach Lance Gunkel. “The second quarter really killed us.”
Bright spots for the Huskies included a 96-yard rushing performance by senior Brandon Patterson. Patterson has accounted for more than 70 percent of the Huskies’ offense through three games, racking up 364 yards on 57 carries for a robust average of 6.4 yards per attempt.
Patterson is the only Husky who has scored offensively this season, and he also added two-point conversions after each of his touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Allen Hardey also contributed to the running game for the Huskies, hammering out 42 yards on 14 carries. Especially during the early portions of the game, Hardey utilized quick feet and a shifty running style to add much-needed diversity and production to the Huskies’ running attack.
Hardey, along with Patterson, has also carried much of the load on the defensive side of the ball, and those two are unofficially the team’s leaders in tackles.
Elijah Giles, a junior whose varsity football experience was limited prior to this season, has begun to contribute on both sides of the ball. As a defensive back, Giles is beginning to make big plays and solo tackles from sideline to sideline. He has also provided help in pass coverage.
Offensively, Giles took a short pass from Hardey and negotiated his way through Colorado Christian defenders for a 30-yard gain on Saturday.
On the defensive side, a host of Huskies have shown the ability to seek out ball carriers and make big stops in key situations. Against the Lions, Evan Grafner, Ben Hatz, Jacob Ebbs, Johnathan Hannigan, Matthew Bracknell, Austin Miller and Darius Boyer all chipped in with nice defensive plays.
Next up for the Huskies is a Sept. 27 road trip to take on the Peyton Panthers. Peyton (1-2) picked up its first win of the season last week against Clear Creek, 42-12, but dropped their first two games of the season to Florence (34-0) and Colorado Springs Christian (32-14), respectively.
The Huskies and Panthers kick off at 7 p.m. in Peyton for what will be the final non-conference game of the season for both teams.