•Mustangs score late td
•Teams held scoreless for first 3 quarters
•Montrose visits Aurora Central at 5:30 p.m. Friday for regular-season finale
By Andrew Kiser
Ponderosa seems to be the Achilles heel for the Montrose Indians.
With the hopes of securing a Metro League title and avenging a last-season loss to the Mustangs, the Indians football team didn’t come away with either.
The Mustangs (6-3; 4-0 in Metro) scored the game’s only touchdown with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter before stuffing the Indians (8-1; 3-1) at the goal line midway through the same period, giving the visitors a 7-0 win Friday night.
Ponderosa was able to shut down a hot Montrose offense that scored more than 100 points over the past two games. But in this contest, Montrose punted three times, turned the ball over on downs twice, threw an interception and missed a field goal before halftime.
“It just didn’t go our way honestly,” Montrose coach Brett Mertens said. “We had opportunities to score throughout the game but we just couldn’t finish drives.”
This came on a cold November night. Game conditions were in the mid-30s before dipping down into the high 20s late.
The Montrose field has seen better days, as it was muddy, with football cleats clearly having left their marks in the ground during the game. And some frost developed on the grass late.
Although these kinds of field conditions aren’t ideal for offenses, MHS quarterback Keagan Goodwin didn’t blame them on the team’s zero points.
“It’s been like this for a while,” he said. “It was a home advantage. We’ve been playing on it.”
Montrose’s offense started its first drive marching into Ponderosa territory following a Mustangs three-and-out to begin the game.
Despite getting the ball to around the Ponderosa 30-yard line, the home team turned the ball over on downs.
This led to the Mustangs putting together their best-looking drive of the first half. The team marched down the field, getting the ball down to the Montrose 5-yard line to start the second quarter.
But the Indians defense held and earned a fourth-down stop against the Mustangs.
Both teams then traded punts as neither unit could get the ball moving on offense.
Montrose had one of its better drives of the first half, driving the ball down deep into Ponderosa’s side of the field late in the second period. But Goodwin fired a pass that was intercepted in the end zone, ending the drive.
Despite the turnover, Ponderosa gave the ball right back on the ensuing drive as cornerback Aaron Dietrich snagged the ball out of the air.
With about 30 seconds left before halftime, Montrose was able to try a field goal. This came on a good run by fullback Cole Simmons and a deep pass from Goodwin to Eli Evans, which led the Indians down to the Mustangs 25-yard line with a second left in the first half.
But Montrose kicker Jake Green’s attempt was no good, and both teams went into the half scoreless.
The third quarter was the same as both teams traded punts.
After another Montrose punt early in the fourth quarter, Ponderosa put together the only scoring drive of the game. The Mustangs got the winning score on a quarterback Jack Hanenburg run from three yards out.
But the Indians almost came away with the tying score on their next possession. On the team’s first play from scrimmage, running back Emmert Kastendieck took off for 60 yards before getting brought down at the Ponderosa 5-yard line.
Despite facing a first and goal, Montrose hurt its chances when a false start brought the ball back to the 10. After three attempts to punch the ball in for the TD, MHS had its last chance on fourth-and-1. But Simmons was tackled behind the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to Ponderosa.
With about six minutes left in the game, the Mustangs milked the clock, getting the ball all the way down to the MHS 2-yard line before the contest ended.
“Their defense played great,” Mertens said. “... Give credit to them. I thought they played hard and well.”
However, the Montrose coach added the loss was still “frustrating.”
“It’s one game,” Mertens said. “We’re not trying to get down on ourselves because we still got some season left to play.”
“It was good to have good competition like that,” Goodwin said. “Now we know what we can get better at. We’re going to go watch film and get better”
Montrose will look to bounce back against Aurora Central when the Indians head to the Front Range to take on the Trojans at 5:30 p.m., Friday.