EVANSTON — The Evanston Red Devils had two turnovers in the first quarter of their Homecoming game which led to a pair of touchdowns for the Lander Valley Tigers. That’s all the scoring the game would see but it was enough for the Tigers to claim a 14-0 road win.
Evanston received the opening kickoff and started the first drive from the Red Devil 14-yard line. A 31-yard run from sophomore quarterback Jaxin Moore highlighted the drive but disaster struck on the next play on an option pitch from Moore to senior Rigden Wagstaff that was fumbled and recovered by Lander Valley’s John Fawson. Fawson streaked 49 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown and the point-after-touchdown was good. With 9:22 remaining in the opening quarter, the Tigers owned a 7-0 lead.
The ensuing drive began from the Evanston 27, but another Red Devil fumble was recovered by Ty Massey at the Evanston 19-yard line at the 9:08 mark of the first quarter. Seven plays later, the Tigers notched their second score on a three-yard touchdown run by Jack Sweeney. With 6:38 left in the first quarter, Lander Valley was out on top, 14-0.
Following a three-and-out by the Red Devils, the Tigers again enjoyed good field position starting from the Evanston 43. Lander Valley completed a pass to advance to the Red Devil 21 but the Red Devil defense stiffened. A sack of Massey by Red Devil senior Jesus Quintero forced a 48-yard field goal attempt by the Tigers. The holder looked back at Massey, the kicker, at the moment the long snap was made, resulting in a fumble recovery by senior Jamin Barker at the Evanston 38-yard line.
Senior Bryson Davis carried several Lander Valley Tigers with him on a power run up the middle to the 50-yard line but consecutive plays for losses forced an Evanston punt, which was short and set the Tigers up at the Red Devil 45-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.
A penalty negated a touchdown pass from Massey to Fawson. The Red Devils forced a Lander Valley punt and took over on their own 23.
Senior quarterback David Baxter entered the game to see his first action of the season but the Red Devils turned the ball over for the third time, again giving the Tigers good field position at the Evanston 29-yard line with 9:06 remaining in the first half.
Lander Valley picked up a first down on the drive and moved the ball to the Evanston 17. The Tigers attempted a 34-yard field goal, which was unsuccessful and Evanston had the ball back with 6:01 remaining in the second quarter.
Evanston was forced to punt and thanks to fortuitous bounces, Barker’s punt covered 60 yards and the Tigers faced a long field for the first time on the night, starting from their own 19-yard line with 3:56 showing on the clock.
Lander Valley notched a fresh set of downs by virtue of a Red Devil penalty, but the Tigers were forced to punt after being penalized.
Baxter connected with Wagstaff through the air prior to the first half coming to a close.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff of the second half to the Lander Valley 47 on a good return by Fawson. Davis and senior Gabe Morris teamed up on a tackle for a loss. A subsequent penalty pushed the Tigers back to their own 35 and Lander Valley booted the ball back to Evanston with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Moore reentered the Evanston lineup and the Red Devils managed a first down before being forced to punt. A roughing the kicker penalty against the Tigers kept the drive alive from the Tiger 47-yard line. Moore completed a fourth-down pass to junior Cade Francom to the Lander Valley 33, sustaining the Red Devil drive.
Runs by sophomore David Perez and Wagstaff advanced the ball to the Lander Valley 23. An interception in the end zone by Fawson, who then fumbled out of the back of the end zone, caused confusion for the officiating staff. Evanston wanted a safety to be called but after placing the ball in several different locations and determining who had possession, the officials finally ruled that the pass was incomplete and assessed a holding call against the Red Devils, who were pushed back to the Tiger 45.
Evanston gave up on downs and the Tigers took over at their own 34 with 44 seconds left in the third. Junior Derek Johnson came up with a tackle for a four-yard loss before the quarter expired.
Massey connected with Jayden Thomas into Red Devil territory but the Red Devil defense forced a fumble, recovered by Wagstaff, setting Evanston up from their own 41-yard line with 11:50 remaining in the ballgame.
Operating from the Evanston 48 after a first down, Perez hit the sideline for a 32-yard gain to the Lander Valley 20. The Tigers were whistled for pass interference, placing Evanston in a first and goal situation at the Lander 8-yard line. Evanston got down to the five before Moore was sacked at the 12-yard line. An incomplete pass on fourth and goal gave the ball back to the Tigers with 7:11 remaining in regulation.
Lander Valley moved from the Tiger 12 to the 27 but had to punt and the Red Devils had possession from their own 46-yard line with 5:01 showing on the clock.
Baxter orchestrated a no-huddle offensive drive with short completions to Francom and Wagstaff before connecting on a 16-yard strike to Wagstaff that had the Red Devils in business at the the Lander Valley 14-yard line, but a Lander interception thwarted the scoring opportunity with 3:17 left to play.
Starting from their own 27-yard line, the Tigers picked up a pair of first downs to run out the clock and seal the victory.
The Red Devils finished with 116 yards on the ground and 70 through the air on 10-16 passing between the two quarterbacks.
The remaining schedule consists entirely of 4A West Conference games, beginning with a road trip to Powell to battle the 2-1 Panthers, who are coming off their first loss, a 13-7 setback to the Douglas Bearcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.