KANAB—The Bulldogs’ early-season momentum seemed like a distant memory as the Gunnison Valley football team was pushed around again last Friday.
Gunnison Valley lost its third straight and moved to 2-3 on the season with a crushing loss at Kanab, 48-7, the second time this season that the Bulldogs have been held to a single touchdown in a blowout loss. Kanab had the first 41 points of the game before Gunnison found the end zone in the fourth quarter, overwhelming the undermanned Bulldogs, who are down to about 18 varsity players, Coach Patrick King said.
“We’re lucky to be able to field a line right now,” King said. “Kids can’t take breaks. We’re putting people in position to succeed, and sometimes they make the play, and sometimes they don’t.”
Senior quarterback Jack Hansen was held off the scoreboard for the first time this season, completing 3 of 13 passes for 79 yards. It was also the first game this season where he did not throw an interception.
There was a notable change in special teams as Hansen’s punting duties were delegated to junior receiver Jon Willden, who was solid in his debut, averaging over 30 yards per punt with a clean handle and kick on each one. King clarified that Willden was the projected starter at punter before last season, but injuries forced a different direction, and now he will be permanently starting, allowing more time off the field for Hansen and his nagging injuries.
To say that Kanab’s offense was a one-trick pony would be inaccurate. It was more like they had several ponies that all knew the same trick: run.
The Cowboys piled up 386 rushing yards and scored every touchdown on the ground, riding what was, yet again this season, a clear size disadvantage in the trenches for the Bulldogs.
Kanab’s first offensive play was a perfect foreshadowing of things to come. The Cowboys’ running back went straight up the middle to pick up over 10 yards, but the ball came loose, popping into the air among a host of Gunnison defensive backs. In a baffling turn of events, none of Gunnison’s players could get a hand on the loose ball, and another Kanab player scooped it up and ran away untouched to put a touchdown on the board.
“It’s one those plays,” King said. “That’s how the ball bounces…We’ve had those plays before, too, where it goes our way. It’s pretty frustrating.”
The rest of the half didn’t see Gunnison’s fortunes improve much as Kanab gradually built up a 27-0 lead nearing halftime. Kanab got in scoring position again with a second remaining in the half after a long punt return. Although Kanab’s quarterback completed a long pass towards the endzone on a corner route, senior Dylan Anderson was there to make arguably the Bulldogs’ best play of the half, tackling the receiver a yard short of the goal line to keep the score at 27.
After the Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, the Bulldogs finally got on the board on their next drive. Aided by a fortunate completion on a tipped pass and a few calls against the penalty-prone Cowboy defense, Gunnison got down inside the 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter and capped off the drive with a touchdown dive from junior Brogan Christensen.
Gunnison’s remaining schedule appears to be challenging. They’ll remain on the road this Friday as they travel to face Enterprise.