LAKEWOOD -- In an early-season showdown against Wheat Ridge, the Monarch football team had no trouble moving the ball Thursday night.
The Class 4A top-ranked Coyotes just had trouble hanging on to it.
Despite amassing 336 yards on the ground at Jeffco Stadium, visiting Monarch couldn't overcome three red-zone turnovers in a 12-7 loss to the No. 2 Farmers.
"You can't cough it up," Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. "It killed us. You cannot be a contending team and put the ball on the ground, period. I don't care what part of the field you're on."
Monarch (1-1) had one last gasp at the end as the Coyotes tried to drive 97 yards in the final 2 minutes, 27 seconds. But quarterback Cole Watson's fourth-down pass to Kyle Billingsly fell to the ground near the Wheat Ridge 10 after being tipped a few times by the receiver and Wheat Ridge defensive back Anthony McGinnis.
Wheat Ridge (2-0) took over on its own 42 and ran out the clock, avenging defeats to Monarch the past two seasons when the teams were Mountain Plains League foes..
Monarch running back Ethan Marks returned from a mild shoulder injury suffered in an opening win against Greeley West and rushed for 249 yards on 31 carries.
Included was an 8-yard touchdown on the Coyotes' opening drive, which turned out to be Monarch's only score. Marks, who declined an interview request, fumbled at the Wheat Ridge 5 on the ensuing drive just as it appeared Monarch was going to take a two-score lead.
Harrison Leachman fumbled in the red zone later in the half, and Marks again in the third quarter.
"The turnovers were huge and probably the difference in the game, but I'd like to think we were doing some things to force some of those turnovers," Wheat Ridge coach Reid Kahl said.
Wheat Ridge got two touchdown passes from Ryan Girtin to sophomore Dakota Koeneke, one in each half, and it was enough to hold off the Coyotes. Jordan Jones ran for 103 yards for the Farmers.
"Our energy level was flat from the time we got off the bus to the time we kicked off," Bravo said. "Our kids fought, but we had, what, six illegal procedure calls, which has never happened to us."
In typical Monarch fashion, the Coyotes bulldozed the line of scrimmage en route to the opening-drive TD, rushing 10 times for 80 yards. But the Coyotes couldn't punch it in from there, turning it over on downs three times in Wheat Ridge territory in addition to the fumbles.
"It was just an overall collapse in many aspects of the game," Bravo said. "If we want to get better, we're going to have to get back and practice hard."
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WHEAT RIDGE 12, MONARCH 7
At Jeffco Stadium
Monarch (1-1) 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Wheat Ridge (2-0) 0 6 6 0 -- 12
Monarch -- Ethan Marks 8 run (Jamie Falloon kick).
Wheat Ridge -- Dakota Koeneke 31 pass from Ryan Girtin (kick failed).
Wheat Ridge -- Koeneke 31 pass from Girtin (run failed).
First downs 19 12
Rushes-yards 56-336 29-121
Passing yards 42 117
Comp-Att-Int 2-6-0 8-12-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-30 7-62
RUSHING -- Monarch: Marks 31-249, Glazer 10-51, Bubernak 8-18, Leachman 3-20, Watson 4-(minus 2); Wheat Ridge: Jones 13-103, Mason 5-14, Weakland 3-15, Pettiford 1-2, Girtin 5-(minus 11).
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Monarch: Watson 2-6-0, 42 yards; Wheat Ridge: Girtin 8-12-0-117.
RECEIVING -- Monarch: Billingsly 1-32, Glazer 1-10; Wheat Ridge: Koeneke 6-83, Ortega 1-20, Weakland 1-14.