By Greg Perkins
When the Snowflake Lobos look back at their season in a few weeks, they will understand just how good it was. Their 9-3 record was against arguably the toughest schedule in Division IV football, with their only losses coming to three of the four remaining teams in the state playoffs.
Even so, last Saturday’s home playoff loss to River Valley in the quarterfinal round will likely leave a bitter taste for a few weeks.
The Dust Devils came into this game with a 10-1 record including six straight road wins. River Valley’s only loss was a four-point game against Yuma Catholic, which is in the semifinal round of Division V.
River Valley boasted a strong running game and used that ground attack to keep the Lobos at bay for much of the game.
The Dust Devils put together a long drive which ended on a short touchdown run by Brandon Long to go up 7-0 with 2:12 left in the first. Snowflake countered at the 6:35 mark of the second quarter with a Porter Black scoring run. Rubon Caldwell’s point after kick tied the game at 7-7. River Valley then forced a Lobo punt, which left the Dust Devils with great field position. They promptly moved down the field behind their massive offensive line and scored with 3:20 left in the half on a one-yard run, pushing the lead to 14-7.
Snowflake started the next drive on its own 30 and moved right down the field, capping the effort with a three-yard score from Trevor McCray. The point after kick knotted the game at 14 at halftime.
Hoping for a quick start in the second half to gain momentum, the Lobos got just the opposite when they lost a fumble on the first play, giving River Valley great field position at the Snowflake 41 yard line. River Valley failed to capitalize on the turnover, though. The Dust Devils made a 29-yard field goal to move up 17-14, but when a defensive penalty was called against the Lobos, River Valley chose to take the first down and took the three points off the board, leaving the game tied. A few plays later that appeared to be the right choice when the Dust Devils found the end zone on a two-yard run. That score, however, was wiped away with an offensive penalty. Eventually River Valley attempted a 42-yard field goal and missed, giving the Lobos the ball back at their own 20 yard line and still in a 14-14 tie.
With the third quarter winding down the Lobos attempted a fake punt in their own territory, hoping to catch the Dust Devils off guard and extend their own drive. The fake wasn’t successful, giving River Valley the ball back at the end of the third with great field position. The Dust Devils took full advantage of that field position, moving down and scoring on a three-yard run by Brandon Long to move in front 21-14 with 9:55 left in the game. Just two minutes later they put the game away when Long scored again on a lengthy run, sending River Valley to the semifinal round against Seton Catholic and the Lobos to the gym and the wrestling room with a 28-14 loss.
Running behind his big offensive line Long finished the game unofficially with 33 runs for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
The Lobos had just 193 unofficial total yards and River Valley finished with only 260 total yards of offense.
Snowflake had a great season, but this deep in the playoffs, a subpar outing against a good team brought the season to a close.
Blue Ridge will face Show Low in one semifinal round, which will be played in Snowflake on Saturday, Nov. 23. Seton Catholic and River Valley will square off in the other semifinal match-up.
By Greg Perkins