Mesa Ridge rally runs out of steam vs. Pueblo West

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Photo - Pueblo West senior Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams (3) makes a catch for a touchdown as Mesa Ridge senior Derrion Barley (1) defends in the second quarter. The Mesa Ridge Grizzlies hosted the Pueblo West Cyclones in boys' football on Friday, October 20, 2017 at C.A. Foster Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Pueblo West senior Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams (3) makes a catch for a touchdown as Mesa Ridge senior Derrion Barley (1) defends in the second quarter. The Mesa Ridge Grizzlies hosted the Pueblo West Cyclones in boys' football on Friday, October 20, 2017 at C.A. Foster Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Can a Grizzly Bear outrun a Cyclone?

Not in nature, and apparently, not in Friday night football.

Despite a well-played third quarter by Mesa Ridge, the Pueblo West Cyclones pounded the Grizzly defense with their powerful run game to claim a 47-23 4A Southern Football conference victory at CA Foster Stadium.

Pueblo West senior Jacob Wilkinson (11) passes under pressure from Mesa Ridge senior Dominick Fini (55) in the third quarter. The Mesa Ridge Grizzlies hosted the Pueblo West Cyclones in boys' football on Friday, October 20, 2017 at C.A. Foster Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing 

Mesa Ridge's typically high-tempo offense had trouble finding momentum in the first quarter, while its defense struggled to stop the Cyclones' well-spread run game. But as the game progressed Mesa Ridge (5-4, 2-2) continued to adjust, and entered the locker room trailing 26-3.

"We went in at halftime and we told them, as bad as the score looked we're playing pretty good football," Mesa Ridge coach Rob Braaten said. "The second quarter actually wasn't too shabby but I told them we have to keep hammering."

The Grizzlies came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, as the defense pressured Pueblo West with a sack and a tackle for a loss on the first possession of the half, then marched down the field to line John Hubbard-Johnson up for a 3-yard touchdown.

Hubbard-Johnson then emerged as a hero on defense on the next drive, recovering a fumble to put the Grizzlies in scoring position again.

Mesa Ridge senior John Hubbard-Johnson (9) runs the ball while defended by Pueblo West players in the third quarter. The Mesa Ridge Grizzlies hosted the Pueblo West Cyclones in boys' football on Friday, October 20, 2017 at C.A. Foster Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing 

This time it was Ju-wan Edgerton who pulled down a 34-yard pass from backup quarterback Kyle Gaster to put the Grizzlies within 10.

"That gave us a lot of momentum, we thought we could bring it right back and we were in there, but they took the wind right back out of us," Edgerton said. "From this we have to learn to come out fast and not come out lackadaisical. We need to come out fast and play like that for four quarters."

"We were trying to claw our way out but they found a way to jump back in," Braaten said. "There's a lot of stuff to fix, but I know I don't have to question my kids' heart, they kept coming."

The Grizzlies did not earn a first down until midway through the second quarter, but from there Mesa Ridge went to work.

Arnell Henry got things started with a long run to put Mesa Ridge in scoring position, but after another tough defensive stand by Pueblo West (7-1, 2-1), the Grizzlies settled for a 27-yard field goal. On the next drive Henry helped on the defensive end, as his line stopped a Pueblo West scoring drive in the red zone with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Henry pulled down a tackle on the 4-yard line on second-and-goal, while another defender broke up a pass on the following play to force a 26-yard field-goal attempt, which went wide as the half expired.

Mesa Ridge's Elijah Valdez rushed for a 27-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but the Cyclones tacked on two more touchdowns late in the half to knock the wind out of a Grizzly comeback.

Jacob Wilkinson had two rushing touchdowns for Pueblo West and threw for two more. Pierre Taylor had 63 yards on scoring drives alone with a 46-yard sprint to the end zone and 17-yard touchdown in the fourth.