Football: Mead falls to Fort Morgan in Class 3A title game

Mustangs win first title since 1999

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead coach Jason Klatt holds the runner-up trophy surrounded by the Mavericks and fans Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead's Corby Tecu rushes for a touchdown Saturday, December 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead's Evan Morris runs to the outside edge Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead quarterback Gavin Garrettson hands off to Evan Morris Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead's Danny Brewington wraps up Fort Morgan's Briggs Wheatley Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead quarterback Gavin Garrettson scrambles Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead's Nick Murphy and Ka'ili Casco combine to stop Fort Morgan's Briggs Wheatley short of a touchdown Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

  • Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com

    PUEBLO — Mead's Corby Tecu fights for extra yards in the Class 3A Championship Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

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PUEBLO — Mead senior Corby Tecu spent much of Saturday afternoon’s Class 3A title game running through tacklers on his way to a two-touchdown performance. A fitting sendoff for a team that fought through so much after an abrupt and unfortunate end to last season, marching to the program’s first title game appearance 12 months later.

All that was missing was the storybook ending.

Fort Morgan quarterback Briggs Wheatley led a late go-ahead touchdown drive at CSU-Pueblo’s ThunderBowl and David Keller’s interception with 10 seconds remaining sealed the 21-17 win for the Mustangs, who claimed their first football title since 1999.

As the final seconds washed away, players and coaches from Fort Morgan sprinted out onto the field and piled into a mess of happiness. Mead coach Jason Klatt got his team together and did his best to provide perspective on everything that had been gained and not lost.

“The best group of guys in terms of being unselfish,” Klatt said. “And last year’s group was much the same. So, they really wanted to finish the job for last year’s group. But you know what? I think they did. I think we’ve accomplished our purpose and our purpose of being together and learning what it is to be a man of character. They’re champions today because of the way they fought and the adversity that they were (dealt) this season.”

Ka’ili Casco gave Mead a 17-14 lead with 7:40 remaining, setting the stage for Fort Morgan’s talented southpaw quarterback, Wheatley.

One big throw after another, the Mustangs moved down the field with the clock bleeding away. Wheatley converted on fourth-and-5 with a completion to Brayden Fajardo at the sticks past midfield. He found Chase Reding on a third-and-8 with an 11-yard strike inside the 20.

He finally capped it with his legs, surging through the line for a 6-yard TD to make it 21-17 with 3:57 remaining.

Mead’s final drive looked promising but was tainted with three penalties. They moved inside Fort Morgan’s 35, then moved back a bit with another flag. With 15 seconds and ticking, Fort Morgan’s Keller leapt up to snag quarterback Gavin Garrettson’s throw inside the 20 to end things.

“We were on the right side of it, the right side of it, the right side of it, and then you’re on the wrong side of it,” Klatt said. “That’s the game of football. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”

Mead had outgained Fort Morgan by nearly 100 yards on the ground in the opening half but went into the break tied. The opening two quarters saw the Mavericks scoot down the field on drives of 8, 12 and 13 plays. All that showed, though, was Tecu’s point-blank blast up the middle early in the second.

Tecu broke the stalemate, scoring his second TD of the game midway through the third. The Mavericks had forced a three-and-out on the Mustangs’ opening possession after the break and marched down the field. Tecu then pinballed off a defender into the end zone on a fourth-and-1 from the 2.

Fort Morgan responded with scoring drives on its next two possessions. Frank Ortega ran through a giant hole for his second TD run of the day to tie things at 14 with 2:48 left in the third. Then after holding Mead to a field goal after its 12-play drive, the Mustangs drove 65 yards in 11 plays for the winning TD.

“It’s not the way you want to finish but at the end of the day I’m here with my best friends,” Tecu said. “There’s no other place I want to be. And there’s no other team or city I want to represent.”

Tecu rushed for roughly 100 yards, Garrettson had 98 on the ground and Evan Morris had 74. The Mavs outgained Fort Morgan in total, 342-238.

Mead’s run to the football championship was the school’s fourth title game appearance over the last 14 months. The softball program went to the 4A championship in the fall of 2020 before falling to Holy Family. The basketball team won in March and the volleyball team finished runner-up in May.