RANDOLPH—Boarding the bus to ride home to Gunnison last Friday, the Bulldogs were in possession of something the team’s starters haven’t experienced since they picked up a football—a winning streak.
The Gunnison football team pitched a defensive shutout, and junior quarterback Jack Hansen accounted for all three touchdowns scored on the night as Gunnison beat Rich on the road, 21-0, last Friday in an early game, winning back-to-back regular season games for the first time since 2007.
“We ran into a ton of adversity,” Coach Patrick King said. “To overcome multiple situations shows a maturation. Long road games are very difficult, but I am happy to see the boys find a way to get a good win while avoiding injuries. Most importantly, against a tough team with little room for error, we committed zero turnovers.”
Hansen completed 11 of 16 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown, a 42-yard bomb to sophomore Brogan Christensen. Hansen also rushed 6 times for 15 yards and two touchdowns. Hansen also recorded an interception on defense playing at safety.
“Jack is a natural leader,” King said. “He does great at everything he puts his mind to…he is a leader in every phase of what we do.”
Speaking of defense, the Bulldogs’ defense put on an absolute highlight reel. Hansen’s pick was one of two by the secondary, the other being hauled in by sophomore Bryson Sorensen. Seven different Gunnison defenders combined for eight sacks, with senior Talon Belnap and junior Tate Dunne recording two apiece. It was the first time Gunnison held an opponent scoreless since the 2011 season opener.
Senior Zach Stewart led a mostly quiet run game with 10 carries for 32 yards.
Gunnison’s first drive was met with the exact kind of Rich toughness King has been talking about all week. The Rebels forced the Bulldogs into a 4th-and-19 on the 29-yard line, but senior running back Zach Stewart took a dump-off pass from Hansen and turned up field, nearly scoring on a 28-yard run. Two plays later, Hansen snuck in the 1-yard score.
After the rest of the half was a scoreless defensive struggle, the Bulldogs took control on their first drive of the third quarter as King opened up the field with a variety of passes and rush plays, including a run up the middle by Belnap. Hansen delivered the goods yet again as the junior snuck through the line and swept right to skip across the goal line for a 14-0 lead.
After Rich went 3-and-out on their ensuing possession, King delivered the knockout punch late in the third as Hansen dialed up an arcing pass to Christensen, one of about three receivers who were wide open, and Christensen raced to pay dirt for the final points of the afternoon.
Gunnison moved to 2-2 on the season, and RPI rankings released on Monday slotted the Bulldogs at No. 9 out of 13 teams.
The Bulldogs have an intriguing matchup with No. 6 North Summit this Friday. The Braves field a stalwart defense and dedicated running game and are currently 2-3 on the season.
“We have a lot of preparation to make before the Braves arrive,” King said. “They are very tough. If we play mistake free football, we have a very good chance this week.”