BOULDER — Four offensive plays, three touchdowns.
And it was just the start of a nightmare first half for the Fairview Knights.
Ralston Valley scored the first 26 points of the game before giving up a touchdown early in the second quarter Thursday night at Recht Field. They would score 17 unanswered points after and led 43-7 at the half. One more touchdown by the Mustangs forced a running clock and handed Fairview a lopsided 50-7 loss that may knock them out of the CHSAA top 10 polls next week.
“We are really big on taking care of the ball and ball security,” Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. “We didn’t do that today. We knew they had an excellent squad, but we have to do a much better job of protecting the ball and make some more plays. It’s frustrating.”
McCartney saw his team commit seven turnovers in the loss as interceptions and fumbles piled on throughout the night.
Quarterback Aidan Atkinson was intercepted on the second drive and then fumbled later in the first quarter. A couple more interceptions and a muffed punt came in the second for five total turnovers. Forcing the ball down field on some deep passes in the second half, two more passes were picked off to complete the seven-turnover night for Ralston Valley.
“It just wasn’t our night,” McCartney said.
The turnovers piled on and Ralston Valley added to the pain by scoring on four of the five turnovers in the first half and getting another touchdown immediately after an interception in the second half. In total, 34 points for Ralston Valley came off turnovers in the win.
“It’s one thing to get the turnover, which obviously kills the offense, but to put points on the board is the difference,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Lloyd said.
Walker Brickle had 241 passing yards for Ralston Valley, starting with 80 yards on a swing pass to Ben Takata on the first offensive play of the game for the Mustangs. His favorite receiver, Caleb Rillos, had six receptions for 106 yards and two scores, including a couple of receptions along the sideline with the defender draped all over him.
Things were not the same for Fairview on the other side with Atkinson completing 20 of his 43 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown.
Things won’t get easier for Fairview with ThunderRidge coming to town next week. ThunderRidge defeated Fairview twice last season, including their second-round loss in the Class 5A state tournament to end their season.
“We can’t let this linger,” McCartney said. “We have to find a way. This one hurts right now, but we have to get back up and get ready for the next one.”