Eighth graders prevail in 14-6 thriller
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Brandon Warr

Brandon Warr

Times Staff Writer


GMS Football —  With 2:48 left in the game, Delta had the ball on the Gunnison Middle School (GMS) eighth-grade football team’s 48-yard line. After a 20-yard scramble by the Panthers quarterback, it looked like the visiting team was poised to tie the game.

Yet, an incomplete pass and a seven-yard loss led to third and long. The Panthers quarterback dropped back to pass and threw the ball down the field — to what he thought was an open to defender. However, Spike Riser intercepted ball, sealing the Mustangs’ 14-6 victory.

It didn’t take long for the eight-grade Mustangs to show they were the better team.

On the very first play on offense, Brandon Furnaro came close to scoring — rushing for 58 yards. However, a Panther defender eventually caught up to him, tackling Furnaro on the two-yard line.

Still, Furnaro scored on the next play.

“I saw the hole open up and I took it,” he said.

Instead of kicking the point after, the Mustangs went for a successful two point-conversion, taking an 8-0 lead.

The Panthers appeared that they would respond on their first drive. Delta earned three first downs before GMS’ defense stepped up.

On fourth and four, the Panthers tried to rush down the middle, but came up short, turning possession over to GMS.

A costly holding penalty derailed the Mustangs’ next drive, resulting in a punt. Delta suffered the same fate on their next drive.

GMS got the ball one more time before halftime and capitalized on their opportunity. However, before the Mustangs extended their lead to 14-0, Riser made a key play for the GMS on fourth and one, resulting in the drive continuing.

On the very next play, Riser threw a dime to Rocky Marchitelli on the fade route for a 35-yard touchdown. At halftime, GMS held a 14-0 lead.

On Delta’s first drive of the second half, GMS’ defense had back-to-back tackles for loss, resulting in the Panthers punting once again.

Going into the fourth quarter, it appeared the game was in the hands of the Mustangs. However, Delta had five first downs on their next drive before scoring on a two-yard pass.

GMS stopped the Panthers’ two-point attempt, and with 3:23 left in the game, Delta tried to get the ball back with an unsuccessful onside kick.

GMS tried to run out the clock but fumbled the ball on a halfback dive.

The Panthers took over with 2:48 left but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

“It was great to get the first win of the season,” said Furnaro.

Prior to the eighth-grade Mustangs’ narrow victory, the seventh grade GMS football team faced Delta as well. The Mustangs were defeated 24-0.

Despite failing to score a point, GMS did show promise for the future.  Late in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs put together a long drive, reaching the 11-yard line.

The Mustangs will be back on the field Saturday, Sept. 15, as they travel to Olathe at 9 a.m.


(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or brandon@gunnisontimes.com.)