RANDOLPH—With only four days of practice at eight-player football, the Bulldogs had a tough challenge with a much-improved Rich team, and with a little extra football at the end, they passed that test.
Senior Bryson Sorensen broke through for his fifth touchdown of the day to win Gunnison Valley football’s first eight-player game in program history in overtime, 33-27. Sorensen had the best game of his career as he made every touchdown for the Bulldogs, four of them being rushing scores.
“Bryson is a four-year letterman that has been extremely coachable over his time at Gunnison,” Coach Patrick King said.
Junior quarterback Tyson Tucker didn’t have to do much with his arm, completing 4 of 7 passes, but he still managed 80 passing yards and a touchdown.
Senior running back Tyrek Hopkins trucked through defenders all game long, finishing with 25 carries for 141 yards. Sorensen had only eight carries, but they turned into 118 yards and four touch- downs. The Bulldogs combined for 314 total rushing yards.
While Sorensen was by far the star of Friday night’s game, Bulldog fans got to see teamwork at its finest, King said. “A lot of Bulldogs delivered, however that was a fine performance by a talented player.”
Defensively, Gunnison had a solid day, collecting eight tackles for a loss, including three from Hopkins, who had back-to-back TFL’s in overtime. Gunnison also forced three fumbles and recovered two.
Going into halftime, with not a lot of action from the offense, things were not looking good for Gunnison. That changed early in the third quarter when Sorensen scored on a 53-yard run and then again on a 14-yard run.
Sorensen scored again early in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a 21-19 lead, but Rich came up big with mere minutes to go with a touchdown run of their own.
With under two minutes remaining, junior quarterback Tyson Tucker launched a deep pass to senior Brogan Christensen to set up the Bulldogs in Rebel territory. After a few run plays by Hopkins, Tucker hit Sorensen again, this time for 17 yards, giving Gunnison a touchdown to tie the game up. Rich then came through with a huge block on the point-after attempt to send it into overtime.
All tied up at 27 points apiece, Sorensen stuck an exclamation point on the end of a great day for the senior with a 22-yard touchdown run to give them the win.
This game being the first of two scheduled 8-player games, King said that it was a huge challenge to adjust. He said the fundamentals are the same, but the strategy can be very new.
“As we get more film experience, I believe we can expand how we go about 8-man contests,” King said.
While there has been speculation that Gunnison being a larger school than the other 8-player teams was going to be a huge advantage, King said every town can find eight good athletes.
“Only eight players at a time, we will still have to earn every single yard,” King said. “There aren’t freebies in football.”
Gunnison will be back to 11-player football this Friday as they travel to take on the Parowan Rams for their first region game in the 2A North.
“Parowan is very tough to play at their house,” King said. “It seems like we always have to go down there. It’s important that we play crisp and fight all four quarters in order to be successful.”