By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
The Golden Valley Grizzlies started their league schedule off right with a tough win over host Hart on Friday night at College of the Canyons.
Down 15-12 in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies (3-2, 1-0) had about three minutes to go 65 yards and leaned on the arm of senior quarterback Jaxson Miner to get there. Miner picked up yards in chunks, hitting his receivers for gains of 20 and 11 yards before finding junior receiver Chris Melkonian wide open up the left seam for a 34-yard score, giving the Grizzlies a 19-15 lead.
“I knew our guys were a little down. They didn’t have much hope, so I had to get them back up,” said Miner. “I told them, ‘We’re only down by three. We gotta get back on the field and score. We can do this.’ And as we started driving their confidence started coming back up and we scored.”
The Indians (1-5, 0-1) had their opportunity for a miracle comeback when a pass interference call got them up to the Golden Valley 31-yard line, but the last-second pass from senior quarterback Tim Larkins sailed out the back of the end zone.
“We played really well but we just had four or five mistakes that cost us,” said Hart head coach Rick Herrington. “We played pretty tough on defense. We looked better on offense today. They were sending a lot of blitzes and the line and our running backs did a great job of keeping them off our quarterback. Just little things we have to do.”
The field position game played a large part in Golden Valley’s ability to build its early lead. Muffed kickoffs by Hart left them stuck deep inside their own territory, which led to Golden Valley getting great starting position. The Grizzlies started three of their five first-half possessions on the Hart side of the field, scoring on two of them.
Senior running back Jared Giles scored both touchdowns, the first on Golden Valley’s opening possession from 15 yards out as he went untouched over the right side. The second score came in the second quarter on a 3-yard counter run. A missed PAT and unsuccessful 2-point conversion made the Grizzlies’ lead 12-0 going into the half.
Hart got on the board in the third quarter when Larkins snuck in from one yard out and a PAT from kicker Bennett Murphy cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 12-7. With the kick, Murphy became the first female player to score points for the Indians.
Headed into the fourth quarter the Indians were able to stop the Grizzlies’ offense and then break running back Chris Clauss for a huge 63-yard touchdown run to give them their only lead of the game, 15-12.
“Every week is a new week,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley. “We’ll watch this film, we’ll learn from our mistakes, we’ll celebrate the things we did right, and we’ll build on everything for next week.”
Golden Valley will host West Ranch and Hart will visit Saugus next Friday.