The Grand County High School (GCHS) Red Devils fell to 7-1 (3-1 in Region 2A South) last Friday night, taking a 33-28 road loss to the Beaver Beavers. Three fumble recoveries by the Beavers, along with a pair of sacks and an interception of Grand County quarterback Bryant Troutt, made the difference in the game.
Despite coming out on top, 7-0, in the opening minutes of the game, courtesy of an interception by Nick Downard and a two-yard rushing touchdown from Dakota Johnson, the Red Devils soon saw the lead tied up at 14-14 going into the locker room at halftime.
The Red Devils were consistent on offense, scoring a touchdown in each quarter of the game — though they were outscored by the Beavers on each side of the half, giving up two TDs in the second quarter and 19 additional points in the third quarter.
On offense, Dakota Johnson led the Red Devils, rushing for 179 yards on 15 carries (223 all-purpose after a 44-yard kickoff return) and garnered two TDs. Two other Red Devil running backs added 100 yards or more; Trent Elmore rushed for 107 yards on five carries with a TD, and Bryant Troutt hit the 100-yard mark on 17 carries with two TDs.
Johnson also cracked the 1,000-yard-offense barrier, logging 1,004 total yards in eight games so far.
At one point in the game the Red Devils led Beaver, 14-7, but a series of missteps by Grand County later in the matchup would cost them the win.
“The difference in this game is that we had more turnovers than we normally ever should,” head coach Dennis Wells said. “When we were up 14-7 and got the ball down on their 14-yard line, we hiked the ball over the quarterback’s head and they recovered it. That was one turning point, though they hadn’t stopped us all night. Instead of us scoring and going into halftime ahead 21-7, they scored on a long run on the very next play.”
In the second half, Wells said an ill-advised pass play — after his team had been controlling the ball during almost all of the third quarter — led to another turnover and an eventual 12 unanswered points from the Beaver offense.
“We’d been in control all of the first part of the second half and I figured, ‘let’s throw it on second down.’ It was a play action pass and it wasn’t open and it just led to an interception, which they ran back for a touchdown. Trent was able to catch one later and make it 21-20.”
One of the big plays that went against Grand was when the defense managed to stop Beaver’s ball carrier just short of the goal line on a big hit — with the ball popping into the hands of a Grand defensive back. The officials, instead of calling it a turnover, whistled the play dead and signaled that the running back had crossed the goal line, giving the Beavers another TD.
“Watching the film, you can definitely see it was a fumble,” Wells said.
The Red Devil defense was no slouch, even considering the loss, as Johnson and Jarett Reidhead each tallied 12 stops. Nick Downard made nine tackles and the trio of Brayden Troutt, Chris Thompson and Jared Smith added seven tackles each. Elmore was outstanding on special teams, logging a 70-yard punt return for the Red Devils, while Johnson also returned a kick for 44 yards. Dante Wells was a perfect 4-4 on PATs.
The Beavers are now ranked No. 1 in Region 2A South, while the Red Devils fall to the No. 2 ranking. Grand County will face its next foe, the San Juan Broncos (3-5, 2-2), this Friday night in Blanding. A Grand County win would cement a runner-up spot in region.
As the No. 2 team, the Red Devils would have a bye in the first round and, according GCHS Activities Director Ron Dolphin, would not play a cross-over game. If the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in 2A remain the same as this week, the Red Devils would likely face the winner on the Region 2A North No. 3 team versus the Region 2A South No. 6 team at home on Friday, Oct. 27.
According to Wells, a win is needed, lest a coin flip decide the Red Devils’ fate.
“The San Juan game is going to be a big game because, even though they have two losses, they are capable of pulling off an upset against us down there,” Wells said. “That would put us in a tie with them and North Sevier and all three of us would have to go to a coin flip to decide who goes forward in what spot.”