KMTS FOOTBALL: DEMONS LOSE BATTLE OF UNBEATENS AT HARRISON

COLORADO SPRINGS (9/22/17) – Harrison High School junior running back Aumiere Shedrick, at 215 pounds, outweighed all but three Glenwood Springs defenders who tried to tackle him as the Panthers handed the Demons their first loss in four games, 36-22. Shedrick didn’t have break-away speed and reached the end zone only on a two-point conversion pass, but he ran for eight first downs in breaking tackles and moving the chains all night long on the way to a punishing 167 yards in 24 carries – and symbolized the Panthers’ weighty advantage in a non-conference battle of unbeaten teams.

Despite facing nine Panthers who matched or exceeded Shedrick’s load, the Demons were knocked down, but kept getting up – an early example being the home team’s opening drive from their 18, which included three first downs, but died at the Glenwood 18 with a fourth-down incompletion by QB Orlando Westbrook.

Glenwood went 3-and-out, but forced a Panther punt after another pair of first down runs by Shedrick and Westbrook. AJ Crowley found Miguel Herrera for a 30 yard completion on first down, but the explosive Demon junior had the ball wrestled away as he fought for extra yards at midfield, the game’s only turnover.

A facemask call following what would be the first of seven completions from Westbrook to David Barrows, and another of Shedrick’s eight first-down runs, set up the Panther quarterback’s 3-yard scoring run. Surprisingly, coach Al Melo signaled a two-point conversion pass from Westbrook to Seth Fuller for an 8-0 lead with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

So when the Demons responded with an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive – keyed by a 27-yard burst from Luke Gair and a 17-yard option run by Herrera – Glenwood also went for two, after Gair followed newly eligible tackle Tony Moore’s block for a 12-yard TD, but Gair’s run was stuffed. With 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Glenwood was as close as it would get, trailing 8-6.

Then the battering began, as Harrison forced punts on Glenwood’s next four possessions, and the combination of the Pathers’hurry-up offense and repeated first downs wore down the Demon defense. Westbrook, who started the game 1-for-6, passed for 18 and 45-yard touchdowns to Barrow for a 22-6 halftime advantage.

Heading into the third quarter, the Panthers had 13 first downs to just three for Glenwood, and 206 yards rushing to 91, but the Demons opened the third quarter with a decent drive that fell four yards short on John Jensen’s fourth-down fake punt run. That set up another TD strike from Westbrook to Barrow from the 37 for a 28-6 lead with 5:08 left in the quarter.

At this point, the outcome seemed inevitable, but coach Rocky Whitworth went to back-up, senior quarterback Brady Steen, who rewarded the decision with a first down, sideline strike for 37 yards to Wyatt Ewer to the Panther 15. A couple of defensive penalties and four plays later, Herrera scored from the one, then ran in the extra point to draw Glenwood within 28-14 with 3:29 remaining in the third.

Glenwood’s Erwin Rodriguez recovered the onside kick, but it was ruled the ball didn’t go ten yards, so Harrison took over at midfield, and after two running plays Westbrook danced through the entire Demon defense on a 48-yard scoring scramble for a 36-14 lead at 2:27.

Rebounding from that decisive blow to their chances at pulling out a comeback win, Steen and the Demons gave indication that winning ways are ahead, driving 75 yards in 2:03, including 39 and 18 yard completions to Rodriguez and a final scoring strike from 25 to Herrera. The connection was repeated on the two-point pass conversion with 24 seconds left to leave the final score, 36-22. Glenwood wound up outgaining Harrison on the ground in the second half, 211-95 and 302 yards to 301 for the game. Westbrook’s three 37-plus scoring plays in the final 14 minutes proved too much to overcome.

Worse than a non-league loss, however, was an injury suffered by Gair, the Demons’ rushing and touchdown leader, with 9:10 remaining in the game. Hurdling a tackler, Gair was undercut by a diving defender, going down hard on his back. At first, the junior running back got up, then went down to the turf, drawing training and coaching staff on the field. Gair again got up and removed his helmet as he began to walk off, but sank to the ground a second time. After leaving the field, he was able to stand, with an ice pack on his back, and watch the remainder of the game from the sidelines, giving hope that the injury may not be debilitating.

Gair wound up with 73 yards on 19 carries with Herrera adding 36 yards on 7 attempts along with 3 catches for 58 yards. Gavin Olson, who punted four times in the first half, but just once after that, carried 7 times for 37 yards. Steen finished 5-of-11 for 121 yards. Westbrook had 86 yards rushing in 10 attempts with two TD’s and a conversion run. Passing, he was 8-of-22 for 109 yards, three touchdowns to Barrow, and three, two- point connections.

“This is the best team we’ve played,” Whitworth said on the field before the game. “They have talent, speed, and size, but we’ll compete if we play a disciplined game and play hard,” which Glenwood definitely did, particularly in the second half.

The Demons (3-1), who were permitted to go over Vail Pass Friday morning prior to its closure due to an accident, have another lengthy road trip next weekend for their final tune up to league play as they travel to Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo to face winless Pueblo Central.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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