BROOMFIELD — Holy Family defensive back Scout Cox saw open space in front of him and knew if he scooped up the fumbled football he’d have room to run.
The senior also knew he couldn’t risk missing the recovery.
Cox chose to fall on the ball, and it proved to be the biggest decision of the night for Holy Family. The third-quarter turnover halted what was shaping up as a momentum-shifting Erie drive, and Holy Family pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 20-7 triumph over its rival at Mike G. Gabriel Field on Friday night.
“Instinct, you just want to get on it and get the ball to our offense,” said Cox, who deflected credit to linebacker Sam Quinn for forcing the fumble.
The victory lifted Holy Family to 2-0 on the season and continued the trend of HFHS and Erie trading regular season victories the last six years.
“It’s a mental boost just because it’s always nice to beat a rival,” said Holy Family tailback Connor Clay, who rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
Holy Family led 6-0 at halftime, but 3A ninth-ranked Erie appeared to have found a groove on the opening drive of the third quarter with wingbacks Ryne Atkins and Joey Ramey grinding out yards. Using its usual methodical run game, Erie drove 35 yards in nine plays to the Holy Family 30.
But on play No. 10, Quinn’s hit on Atkins put the ball on the turf.
“It was big,” Cox said. “It changed the game. It put our offense back on the field. It gave our defense some confidence, and I think it kind of put something in (Erie’s) head that they couldn’t drive the ball on us.”
Erie (1-1), fresh off a win over defending state champ Elizabeth in Week 1, stopped Holy Family on downs on its next drive. But Ramey fumbled on EHS’ first snap, and Chuck Hollwedel recovered for HFHS to set up a Clay touchdown run eight plays later that made it 12-0 with 11:04 left in the game.
After an Erie punt, Holy Family put the game away with a 68-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Sommers to Gintas Jarasius. Clay ran in the two-point conversion to make it 20-0 with 7:02 left.
Erie answered with a quick score to make it 20-7 on a 24-yard pass from Pedro Anderson to Ramey with 4:25 to go. But Holy Family ran out the clock with a steady dose of Clay up the middle on its final possession.
“We felt like we had the momentum the whole game and were beating ourselves a little bit,” said Holy Family coach Mike D. Gabriel, whose father the Tigers’ stadium is named after. “So we didn’t change anything at halftime. We just assured them of how good they were and to play with their hearts and courage, and they came out in the second half and did it.”
The loss was a tough one to swallow for Erie, which walked away feeling like it had let a chance to win slip away.
Atkins rushed for 100 yards on 15 carries, and Anderson added 54 yards on the ground. But penalties hampered Erie in the first half, and the turnovers proved too much in the second.
“We went back to the basics, went back to the powers, pushing up,” Atkins said of Erie’s early third-quarter drive. “We fixed some blocking schemes and started really hitting the outside hard and getting right up behind the linemen and getting a push. And then the turnovers killed us.”
Holy Family 20, Erie 7
At Mike G. Gabriel Field
Erie (1-1) 0 0 0 7 — 7
Holy Family (2-0) 6 0 0 14 — 20
Holy Family — Connor Clay 3 run (kick failed).
Holy Family — Clay 2 run (pass failed).
Holy Family — Gintas Jarasius 68 pass from David Sommers (Clay run).
Erie — Joey Ramey 24 pass from Pedro Anderson (Ryan Haynes kick).
First downs 9 18
Rushing yardage 40-196 45-197
Passing yardage 24 160
Passing 1-1-0 7-11-0
Punting 5-34 3-33
Fumbles-fumbles lost 2-2 3-0
Penalty yardage 8-61 5-37
RUSHING — Erie: Atkins 15-100, Anderson 8-54, Ramey 8-23, Brink 7-12, Mickey 1-5, Roper 1-2; Holy Family: Clay 26-140, Sommers 9-33, DeHerrera 9-22, Jarasius 1-2.
PASSING — Erie: Anderson 1-1-0, 24 yards; Holy Family: Sommers 7-11-0, 160 yards.
RECEIVING — Erie: Ramey 1-24; Holy Family: Jarasius 2-117, McGillin 2-14, West 1-19, Balthazor 1-13, Clay 1-(-3).