Rangely football rips Rams in Oak Creek
Oak Creek — It’s not the kind of comment that will leave the Soroco High School football fans feeling any better Saturday, but perhaps Rangely coach Paul Fortunato summed it all up Friday night, moments after his Panthers shocked the Rams, 41-24, in Oak Creek.
“This is a great conference right now. Everyone’s beating each other up,” he said.
It’s certainly muddled. With just one week remaining in regular-season play, only West Grand seems in good position to host a cross-district game, and even that could go out the window Saturday when the Mustangs play Vail Christian.
Soroco fell from the ranks of the undefeated Friday, losing a game that may have been decided by three scores but was defined by inches.
When it mattered most, Rangely did just enough, both late in the first half and late in the second. It converted two fourth downs and a third down on a game-deciding fourth quarter drive that drained the soul from what had been a spirited comeback effort by Soroco.
The Rams, 5-1, seemed poised to take control early in the second half as they began to exert their will with a powerful running game, marching 51 yards on 13 plays. Ian Palyo capped that drive off with a 4-yard touchdown run, and after a successful two-point conversion, Soroco trailed by only 4, 28-24.
It got the stop it needed on the ensuing drive, too, thanks in large part to a rare dropped pass by the Panthers’ outstanding receiver, Cameron Enterline.
But the Rams punted on fourth and one from their own 39 and could do little to prevent Rangely from taking control. The Panthers went 65 yards in 16 plays, converting every time it needed to in order to keep the drive alive. It drained away more than half of the fourth quarter, and when Lucas Heinle scored from four yards, it secured a victory.
“There was a lot riding on this game for us,” Fortunato said. “We knew if we didn’t win, we might not get a playoff berth.”
Unfortunately for the Rams, the lasting taste from Friday’s game may be “What could have been.” Rangely notched its first touchdown on a fourth-and-three play. Rangely scored twice more one play after grabbing turnovers.
Soroco had success rushing at times and had several great offensive plays. Matt Regan scored first to put the team up, 8-0, with a 7-yard run in the first quarter. Storm Veilleux then broke free off a Regan pass for a 72-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The Rams often lost the fight on the offensive line, however, severely limiting the team’s ability to pass late in the game, which it needed to do to catch up after the Panthers’ quick scores on those turnovers.
“They were physical. They were big, and our line didn’t handle things up front,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “Their backs were against the wall, and they outplayed us tonight.”
Even though just one game remains, there’s still plenty of opportunity for Soroco. No matter what happens Saturday between Vail Christian and West Grand, if the Rams get a win next week against the Mustangs, it would leave Soroco as the district champion.
“We have to come out, and we have to win,” Soroco senior Ryan Jeep said.
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