Evanston loses to Rawlins 23-20 in final minutes

© 2017-Uinta County Herald

RAWLINS — If you like to leave a game early to beat the traffic you may want to change your ways when you attend Red Devil football games. In the last two minutes of the their exciting game against Rawlins the lead changed three times, unfortunately, the last change was in favor of Rawlins.

Riding high after winning their first game of the season, the Red Devils traveled to Rawlins to face the Outlaws. They knew it would not be an easy game. Rawlins has a quick defensive line and their receiver Bryce Jerome is a six foot, five inch athlete who is very fast, and their quarterback, Quentin Romero, has a good arm.

Evanston received the opening kickoff and the Outlaws defense quickly shut them down. On a third and long, Red Devil quarterback Jess Richins threw a beautiful pass to Seth MacDonald, who broke tackles and gained 40 yards. MacDonald looked to have a clear path to the end zone when he dropped the ball. The ball was recovered by Rawlins at their own 35-yard line, giving them excellent field position to start their first drive.

Rawlins was able to move the ball against the Red Devils thanks to a couple of screen passes. Evanston did put pressure on Outlaws sophomore quarterback Quentin Romero. Chandler Anderson broke through the offensive line and forced Romero to throw an incomplete pass but the Outlaws mixed up their running game with short screen passes and started moving the ball again.

A personal foul penalty against the Red Devils placed the Outlaws on the 22-yard line where Evanston was able to stop their momentum and put the Outlaws in a third and long situation and they decided to call in Bryce Jerome, who failed to kick a field goal.

Evanston took over on the 20-yard line. 

Evanston was moving the ball and then Tyus Cornia had a great run but a personal foul against the Red Devils negated his gain and put the ball back on the 21-yard line. Richins wasn’t able to handle the ball after the snap and Rawlins recovered the fumble with just 4:37 left in the first quarter. This was the second turnover by Evanston in the quarter. 

Once again, the Red Devils had some luck on their side when on the Outlaws’ first play. A high snap was handled by the Outlaws’ quarterback who handed the ball to Damon Taylor but he dropped the ball and Evanston recovered the fumble. With two turnovers in the game, the Rawlins was not able to capitalize on the mistakes.

The Red Devils were stopped and forced to punt the ball and Rawlins took over on their own 21-yard line. Romero went back to pass but dropped the ball. He recovered his own fumble after losing seven yards. Then Bryce Jerome caught a Romero pass to gain 39 yards before being stopped at Evanston’s 32-yard line to close out the scoreless first quarter.

The Red Devils continued to have problems handling the ball during the snap but they were able to recover their own fumbles. 

Late in the second quarter, Evanston’s Brenden Mathson made a big defensive play for the Red Devils when he broke up a Romero pass that would have given the Outlaws the first down. An intentional grounding penalty against Romero forced Rawlins to punt the ball and Evanston took over on the 36-yard line. 

On the first play, the snap was mishandled but Seth Lloyd, who had taken over the quarterback duties for Evanston, collected the fumble. 

On third down and 11, Lloyd dropped back to pass but was under tremendous pressure by the Rawlins defense. Lloyd stayed calm and found Hunter Groll open and hit him with a screen pass. Groll gained a lot of ground and ran out of bounds at the four-yard line, giving the Red Devils first and goal.

The Red Devils lost about a yard on the next play but then Lloyd pitched the ball to Cornia. The pitch was high but Cornia handled the ball well and then kicked in the after-burners, turned the corner and scored the first touchdown of the game.

The first half ended with Evanston leading 7-0.

The second half started with Rawlins receiving the kickoff but excellent defensive play by the Red Devil defense gave the ball back to Evanston’s offense. 

Jess Richins came out and took over the quarterback duties to start the third quarter. He handed the ball to Groll who ran it up the middle to gain nine grueling yards. Terry Wheaton took the next handoff and pushed to gain the first down at the Red Devils’ 41-yard line. Groll again pushed forward for another six yards and then Wheaton took the handoff. He used a spin move to gain another 10 yards for the Red Devils. The offense was on the Outlaws’ 44-yard line and two more runs by Cornia and Groll gave the Red Devils another first down at the 39-yard line.

The Red Devils were moving the ball well. After a couple of short gains, the Red Devils were in a fourth down and two yard situation at the 26-yard line and were going to attempt getting a first down when they were called for a false start penalty. It pushed them back to the 30-yard line but with a fourth and seven, they decided to try again. Richins was hit on his blindside by Ken Raymond for a ten yard loss and the Outlaws took over on downs at their own 40-yard line.

The Red Devils defense was doing a good job holding Rawlins until Romero threw a pass to Bryce Jerome. Jerome couldn’t get a handle on the ball and it bounced off the helmet of Reid Gross. The ball bounced off a second player and then Jasper Martinez grabbed the ball out of the air giving Rawlins a 30-yard gain and a first down at the 20-yard line.

After a penalty that moved Rawlins back to the 25-yard line, Romero connected with Jerome in the end zone to tie the score. 

Evanston received the ball and was forced to punt and at the end of the third quarter Rawlins was moving the ball near mid-field.

Early in the fourth quarter the Red Devil defense forced Rawlins to punt the ball but Groll fumbled the ball on the return and Martinez recovered the ball for Rawlins, giving the Outlaws a first down on the 14-yard line. 

Romero threw a pass into the end zone for Taylor. He caught the ball but was called for offensive pass interference after pushing off. Another incomplete pass followed by a failed field goal attempt from the 32-yard line and Evanston got the ball back in good field position.

The Red Devils took advantage of that field position Lloyd, under pressure from Rawlins’ defense, dropped a short pass off to Groll who gained 21 yards and the first down near mid-field. A couple of runs by Cornia pushed the ball out about the 45-yard line. Lloyd ran to his left, looking downfield, and then he threw the ball to the ten yard line where Kody Smith pulled in the pass and ran into the end zone for a second Red Devils touchdown, giving Evanston a 14-7 lead.

It wouldn’t last long.

Rawlins took the ball and started moving it well against the Evanston defense. Up front, Beau Lloyd and Blake Overy did a great job of stopping the run up the middle but short, quick passes and runs around each side by Taylor let Rawlins move the ball to five-yard line. Then a pass from Romero to six-foot, seven-inch Hunter Pixler in the end zone and Rawlins was within one point of tying the game. They decided to go for a two-point conversion. Taylor ran the ball around the left side of the line, turned the corner and with a little more than two minutes left in the game, Rawlins took a one point lead, 15-14.

On the kickoff, Gross caught the ball and thanks to some excellent blocking by the line, he found a hole and ran down the left side of the field to gain 60 yards, placing the ball at Rawlins 30-yard line. Then Lloyd dropped back to pass, ran to his right and threw to Kody Smith who caught the ball at the ten-yard line. A Rawlins defender fell down and Smith was able to score another touchdown for the Red Devils.

Evanston considered going for the two-point conversion but a penalty pushed them back and the extra point attempt by Richins failed when it went left. 

Evanston had regained the lead, 20-15 with just 1:46 left to play.

Larenzo Ebell received the ball for Rawlins but was taken down by Pablo Escalante at the 17-yard line. Then Romero threw to Jerome who was stopped by Mathson but gained 32 yards on the pass play. 

At the 49-yard line, the Red Devils defense worked to stop the Outlaws but another pass play to Jerome gained another 25 yards. Romero passed the ball downfield and the ball bounced out of the hands of Mathson and was caught by Jerome. Giving Rawlins a first down at the 25-yard line.

With 40 seconds left in the game Romero was rushed by the Evanston defense, he flushed out of the pocket and looked to the end zone where he found Pixler again for a touchdown, giving Rawlins a 21-20 lead.

A hand off to Taylor gave the Outlaws a 23-20 lead over the Red Devils to close out the game.

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