This article was edited again at 2:50 p.m. Sept. 2, 2012 to reflect the correction of another of the writer's errors. The player's name is Brody Westmoreland.
This article was edited at 2:48 p.m. Sept. 1 to reflect a correction. Nick Stevens is bound for Colorado State. Patch apologizes for the error.
Poised under pressure, the Vista Murrieta Broncos had a bit of momentum going as the 3rd quarter came to a close. That continued as they turned a 20-16 deficit to the Grizzlies of ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) into an eventual 37-26 win in front of their home crowd.
Friday night's game was the season’s first for both teams. The Grizzlies were coming off an 8-3 season from 2011 where they finished ranked 16th in Colorado. The Broncos were where they finished ranked third in California.
Vista Murrieta’s last loss on the field was Dec. 11, 2010 to Chaparral High School. The Broncos were not ready to relinquish that winning streak.
Following a rocky start that saw the Grizzlies get on the board first with an 85-yard touchdown run and point-after with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter, the Broncos answered with a 25-yard field goal by junior Aaron Ruth with 52 seconds on the clock.
The boys from Colorado didn’t waste any time as they put seven more points on the board by way of a 45-yard pass completion from Brody Westmoreland to Bucky Mallory and a PAT with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter. Score: VM 3 TR 14.
Even with penalties and lackluster play from both their defense and offense, the Broncos refused to cave.
USC-commit Su’a Cravens would make the next score with a 45-yard pass completion of his own thrown by Colorado State-bound senior quarterback Nick Stevens.
At halftime, the score was Grizzlies 14 Broncos 9.
Following a late-hit penalty on the Grizzlies 49 yard line, Stevens found sophomore wide receiver Colin Baker near the end zone. Baker’s high reach and forward momentum got him over the goal line for a 35-yard touchdown reception. After the extra point by Ruth, the score was VM 16 TR 14 with 8:10 left in the third quarter.
ThunderRidge would storm back next with a lightning strike from ten yards out with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter. The extra point was missed. Score: TR 20 VM 16.
Bronco head coach Coley Candaele remained in control, reassuring his stallions on the sideline that they could do this.
With the third quarter clock ticking down, the hometown boys worked their way, play-by-play, towards the goal line. The clock would expire but not their determination.
Stevens barreled down to the 1–yard line on a quarterback keeper. On the next play, he would repeat and make the score. Ruth’s conversion was good and the Broncos were on top, 23-20 with 11:54 to go in the final quarter.
Bronco senior defensive back Treshon Brougton intercepted a pass on the ensuing series. Junior Tyler Cook then scored on a Nick Stevens’ pass from four-yards out. With Ruth’s point-after, the Broncos were now up 30-20 with 5:54 remaining in the game.
A minute later, Bronco junior linebacker Greg Hoyd intercepted a pass and return it for a score with 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. Again, Ruth’s conversion was successful and the home team was up 37-20.
No slouches themselves, the Grizzlies fought hard to the end and scored one more touchdown with 45 seconds left on the clock to make it 37-26 Vista.
There was nice camaraderie between the two squads. Many of the Highlands Ranch families accompanied their team on this pre-league trip and represented well in their visit to southern California.
Next up for the Grizzlies is Ralston Valley in a home game back in Colorado next Friday. Meanwhile, Vista Murrieta will host another out-of-town team—this time, South High School of Anchorage, Alaska. Note that the Broncos start time for next Friday’s game is at 6 p.m.
In other Friday football scores, Murrieta Mesa Rams defeated Hemet High School on their home turf, 35-12. Murrieta Valley Nighthawks shut out Mayfair 42-0 at home. Calvary Murrieta plays Riverside Christian at 7 p.m. tonight.