ERIE — When Erie runs the ball down the opposing defense’s throat, it doesn’t surprise anyone. It’s what the Tigers do.

When Erie throws picturesque bombs down the sideline with pinpoint precision to an in-stride receiver, that’s when it’s time to do a double-take.

Both facets were on display Friday night, when the Tigers celebrated their home opener by holding off late-charging Berthoud 35-28. Erie controlled the first half of the Class 3A nonleague contest so thoroughly that it allowed the Tigers to survive Berthoud’s furious second-half comeback.

“We had a change of momentum there,” said Erie running back Joe Ramey, who had 210 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. “They got the momentum, but we had to come back. We had to keep driving and get those last couple of first downs.”

It didn’t appear things would have to come to that when Ramey was hauling in vertical throws from quarterback Tristan Lyle to help the Tigers to a 28-0 halftime advantage.

Erie led 35-7 with 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Ramey’s third touchdown of the night, a 41-yard run. But Berthoud (0-2) scored three touchdowns in a span of 8 minutes and had the ball at the Erie 30 before the Tigers held on downs to clinch the win. Consecutive sacks by Jesse Tallman and Kody Dotson allowed the Tigers (2-0) to avert the comeback attempt.

“I’ve got all the respect in the world for Berthoud and their coaching staff, and they came to play for four quarters,” Erie coach Larry Gartrell said. “It didn’t matter what the score was. We had the momentum in the first half and they got it in the second. Fortunately, we were able to get to the quarterback right there at the end.”

Prior to the late drama, Erie’s offense was in explosion mode.

Lyle threw two long touchdown passes to Ramey after the Tigers softened up the Berthoud defense with an exclusively run-based attack.

Lyle rarely factors prominently in the offense, but he delivered perfect strikes of 54 and 34 yards to Ramey, who streaked down the right side each time. The latter came 28 seconds before the half and sent Erie to the locker room with a 28-0 advantage.

“He doesn’t get to throw much,” Ramey said. “But he can throw.”

After forcing a quick three-and-out on Berthoud’s initial possession, Erie chewed up more than 10 minutes of possession with an 18-play drive that culminated with Christian Mickey’s 1-yard touchdown. Mickey soon added an 18-yard touchdown run after a Ryan True interception, then the aerial show began.

“Great play calling,” Lyle said. “The defense was crashing so hard at that point. They had no idea it was coming. It was perfect.”

Tigers fans simply were delighted to see Erie at home. The Tigers’ first two home games originally had been moved to Mead due to damage from a late-summer rainstorm. But crews completed repairs to the playing surface last week and it was deemed playable.

Ramey finished with 122 rushing yards on 20 carries and 88 yards on his two TD receptions.

After a nearly mistake-free first half in which the Tigers outgained Berthoud 205-16 and didn’t permit the Spartans a single first down, Erie’s second half wasn’t quite as impressive. The Tigers fumbled twice and allowed Berthoud quarterback Cody Braesch to throw for all 142 of his yards after intermission, including a 69-yard touchdown to Jackson Hall.

“I was getting pretty mad when we couldn’t stop them and our offense couldn’t drive,” Lyle said. “But overall offensively, we’re doing the same as last year, if not better.”

Now it’s just a matter of closing games.

“We had to stop them and get one first down and run out the clock,” Gartrell said. “We did what we needed to do.”

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Erie 35, Berthoud 28

At Erie H.S.

Berthoud (0-2) 0 0 14 14 — 28

Erie (2-0) 7 21 7 0 — 35


First Quarter

Erie — Christian Mickey 1 run (Tobias Campbell name kick).

Second Quarter

Erie — Mickey 18 run (Campbell name kick).

Erie — Joe Ramey 54 pass from Tristan Lyle (Campbell kick).

Erie — Ramey 34 pass from Lyle (Campbell kick).

Third Quarter

Berthoud — Cody Braesch 14 run (Kurt Hucal kick).

Erie — Ramey 41 run (Campbell kick).

Berthoud — Jackson Hall 69 pass from Braesch (Hucal kick).

Fourth Quarter

Berthoud — Caleb Price 1 run (run failed).

Berthoud — Braesch 2 run (Price pass from Braesch).


RUSHING — Berthoud: Ryken 10-42, Braesch 16-38, DeMoudt 1-33, Price 6-9, Woodiel 2-6, Dietz 1-2, Baird 1-2; Erie: Ramey 20-122, Mickey 17-73, Jensen 5-15, Lyle 3-12, True 1-9.

PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Berthoud: Braesch 9-14-1-142, yards; Erie: Lyle 4-5-0, 93 yards.

RECEIVING — Berthoud: Dietz 5-24, Baird 2-49, Hall 1-69, Price 1-0; Erie: Ramey 2-88, Jensen 1-14, Mickey 1-(minus 9).