Bulldogs drop to Rams, 24-7,
in first round of 2A playoff
By Matt Harris
PAROWAN—All season long, Gunnison Valley football’s offensive scheme showed itself as one that needed every piece to work correctly in order to function.
A few plays into last Friday’s game, the Bulldogs lost a huge piece at a wrong time—the quarterback.
Junior quarterback Jack Hansen went down with an injury early in the first quarter of Gunnison’s first-round matchup with Parowan in the 2A state playoffs, and the Rams pulled away from the scrappy Bulldogs, 24-7, to knock them out of the bracket and hand the Bulldogs their seventh-straight first-round loss.
In relief of Hansen’s role in the hybrid, run-heavy offense, freshman Jaxon Allen completed 9 of 13 passes for 65 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Allen also ran for 28 yards on 5 carries and lost a fumble.
Senior Zach Stewart led the rushing with 7 carries for 39 yards. Gunnison struggled on offense overall, finishing with 127 total yards.
For Coach Patrick King, a competitive playoff game with the Bulldogs having a shot in the fourth quarter was a big step in the right direction.
“I think we’re building a strong program,” King said. “You’re seeing consistency where we’re being competitive in every single game. When you’re competitive in every single game, that’s where you’re starting to get to a point where you can mature, and you can start to make those tough plays at those critical moments.”
Taking a larger scope at the Bulldogs’ production, the most promising aspect of the game came in the final minute. With the game in hand for the Rams, Allen rolled out right and delivered a touchdown strike to fellow freshman Pearson Judy tiptoeing in the corner of the end zone for the 4-yard score, a demonstration of the bright future of Gunnison football.
Parowan, a team that had notably underperformed this year despite a wealth of senior talent, jumped on top of the Bulldogs early as Parowan quarterback Heath Miller completed a rainbow pass of 46 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game with only 1:40 played.
Later in the first, the Rams got in the end zone again with a 5-yard touchdown run, and they scored again in the second quarter to go up, 21-0.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Rams made a 20-yard field goal for the four-possession lead, followed by Allen’s touchdown to Judy to end the game.
The Bulldogs ended with a 3-6 overall record in a season shortened by two games due to COVID-related cancellations. They graduate seven seniors, three of them starters: Zach Stewart, Talon Belnap and Peyton Dyreng.
“Guys like that, you can’t really describe how much they mean,” King said. “When they’re not here, it’s a huge impact; when they’re here, it’s a huge impact.”