Durango High School had one play for a chance to pull off a huge road upset Friday. It failed, and the Demons fell to regional rival Montrose, 14-13.
“It’s tough. This game could have gone either way,” DHS junior quarterback Jordan Woolverton said. “I wish we would have gotten it. It’s tough.”
The Class 3A No. 10 Durango High School football team trailed Class 4A No. 3 Montrose 14-7 late in the fourth quarter when the Demon defense got a key stop with a sack from Ford Pitts with 2 minutes, 56 seconds to play. That gave the Demons the ball on their own 24-yard line with a chance to either tie or win the game with a scoring drive.
Woolverton orchestrated a brilliant drive. After an early completion and then a first down when Montrose was flagged for a pass interference, the Demons had the ball on their own 46. Woolverton then aired out a 33-yard pass to a diving Gage Mestas.
“Gage put his body on the line for me,” Woolverton said. “I have a special connection with him, and he put everything into that catch. He came out with a hurt shoulder again, but he put it all out there for one play to get us in great field position on that final drive.”
A 4-yard run from Everett Howland and a 9-yard completion from Woolverton to Ben Finneseth then gave the Demons first-and-goal from the 8-yard line, and Woolverton ran and cut his way into the end zone to cut the score to 14-13 with 1:17 to play.
Faced with a big decision, head coach David Vogt elected for the Demons to go for a 2-point conversion. Montrose took a timeout to set up its defense. Woolverton took a shotgun snap and was under pressure quickly and couldn’t get a pass off to a receiver being held coming out of his break. With the contact in the end zone, Woolverton had to tuck the ball away before letting go of a desperation pass that fell incomplete.
“We had the long drive and scored, and we wanted to go for 2 right there and win it,” Vogt said. “We had the play we wanted to run, and Montrose took a timeout. We had to go with our backup play after that.
“It was a little whip route. Their guys inside banged our receiver and then held onto him a bit. The receiver couldn’t get loose. It was just a tough play.”
Durango couldn’t recover an onside kick, and Montrose was able to take a knee and secure a 14-13 victory.
“The last 2½ minutes of that game were so fun,” Woolverton said. “All game, we were fighting for a stop. We finally stopped them twice. But it came down to one play and the end where we needed a 2-point conversion and didn’t get it. We battled to the end, and I’m super proud of the guys even though it didn’t come out our way.”
Montrose ate up most of the game clock Friday. The opening drive took 9:05, as Cole Simmons punched in a 3-yard TD run to cap off a 12-play, 80-yard Montrose drive.
Durango answered right back with a 10-play, 64-yard drive of its own. A big Howland run set up first-and-goal, and Woolverton completed a 4-yard TD pass to Pitts. A Caleb McGrath extra point tied the game with 10:07 to play in the second quarter.
“Ford Pitts, man. He was really playing,” Vogt said. “Last week, he wasn’t a starter but played his butt off. A kid got sick, he got an opportunity to start, and he’s been playing his tail off.”
Durango’s offense didn’t get much going the rest of the game, but the defense stood strong enough to keep Montrose out of the end zone until late in the third quarter.
The Demons looked to take advantage of receiving the opening kickoff of the second half. But Durango went three-and-out after a bizarre penalty in which Howland was flagged for targeting. After catching a pass, he lowered his shoulder to try to break a tackle, and he was flagged for targeting, a penalty usually reserved for a helmet-to-helmet hit by a defender on a receiver.
“It was all the way over on the other sideline, so I didn’t get to see it,” Vogt said. “I thought the refs called a really good game. They might have missed the hold at the end, but you never blame a game on a ref. There were way too many plays through the game we could have executed on.”
On the next Montrose drive, it was the Demons who were on the wrong end of a key personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds that extended the Montrose drive. Simmons broke a 13-yard TD run with 4:37 to go in the third quarter, and the Indians led 14-7.
Montrose was in position to put the game away for good before a big Durango defensive stand that got the ball back into the hands of Woolverton and the Durango offense. Unlike in last week’s 25-18 loss to Class 3A No. 2 Palisade, the Demons had a chance to take the game in their own hands, but the 2-point conversion didn’t have a chance.
After two losses to highly-ranked teams, DHS will stay on the road next week to face interstate foe Farmington (3-0) at Hutchison Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday in Farmington.
“We have to focus on finishing,” Woolverton said. “We’ve gone two games against top teams in the state and showed we can play with anyone. It comes down to that last quarter of the game, and we haven’t finished.”