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Gunnison Bulldog Zack Stewart runs the ball towards a touchdown during a losing game to Duchesne on Friday.

 

Bulldogs fight hard but lose 

 35-17 to Duchesne Eagles

 

By Matt Harris 

Staff writer

10-1-2020

 

DUCHESNE—Heart and moxie. Two of the many reasons that Gunnison Valley football coach Patrick King was proud of his squad at the final whistle

While the Bulldogs put up the same kind of rugged fight they have all season long, they ultimately fell victim to a familiar stumbling block—depth.

For 24 minutes of action, the Bulldogs brought the energy and fire to hit undefeated No. 2 Duchesne with a few haymakers, but the Eagles outmuscled them in the second half as Gunnison fell, 35-17, to move to 2-4 on the season with a 2-2 region record.

Gunnison surprised the Duchesne home crowd and even got the notice of commentators from other games around the state when they held a 17-0 lead in the second quarter as a massive underdog.

“We played an excellent program and played with a lot of heart and moxie,” King said. “I am proud of our efforts. Our kids proved that our program is moving in the right direction. We are much more competitive, and that shows even against elite teams like the Eagles.”

Junior Quarterback Jack Hansen completed 10 of 20 passes for 110 yard and an interception. Senior Zach Stewart had a solid day running the ball as he led the ground attack with 12 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. Senior Peyton Dyreng was a favorite target for Hansen as he caught three passes for 42 yards.

Junior Dylan Anderson took very little time, 14 seconds to be exact, in showing what Gunnison was made of as he returned the game-opening kickoff all the way for an 83-yard touchdown, putting the Bulldogs up 6-0 after a failed conversion.

After Gunnison bottled up the Eagles on their first possession, Stewart took control of Gunnison’s first offensive drive, dragging defenders for a 46-yard run as part of a drive that ended with junior kicker Carson Tucker edging in a 37-yard field goal for a 9-0 lead.

Duchesne caught some momentum on their next drive, but senior Talon Belnap forced a fumble that Gunnison recovered to retake momentum.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Gunnison began driving again. Stewart took a direct snap and turned on the jets for a 46-yard touchdown run. Stewart then scored on the conversion to put Gunnison up, 17-0.

At that point, Duchesne went back to being Duchesne as the Eagles responded with their first touchdown of the game on a quarterback keeper up the middle. The Eagles scored another just before halftime as Gunnison took a 17-14 lead to the locker room.

After halftime, it was all Eagles as Duchesne shut out Gunnison in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the third for a 28-17 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Duchesne sealed the Bulldogs’ fate with an 81-yard touchdown pass, and King was left knowing that his team still had a few miles left to go in their journey to the top.

“Playing four full quarters at a high level in all three phases of the game is always going to be a challenge with a small roster size,” King said. “In some cases, we are seeing teams that can cycle in fresh kids. In other cases, we are seeing teams that have a ton of linemen. Our boys know that we can never take a play off.”

Gunnison finished with 257 total yards of offense.

King and the Bulldogs know full well they have a great opportunity to finish strong in the next three weeks for the 2A playoffs. Per a report by King, the Bulldog’s upcoming game this Friday against Providence Hall was cancelled due to COVID-19-related precaution being taken by Providence Hall.