LAKEWOOD — They say Mustangs are tough to tame. But, put them alongside a stable horse and, with time, the Mustang can calm down.
That’s what happened to the Ponderosa Mustangs when they played the Chatfield Chargers on Sept. 11 at Jefferson County Stadium. The Chargers’ defense cooled off the Mustangs’ offense in the second half and Chatfield walked away with a 17-10 Class 5A nonleague victory.
With the score tied at 10 at the end of the third quarter, Chatfield’s defense stepped up in the fourth. The Chargers put a stop to three Ponderosa drives. On Chatfield’s third possession in the quarter, it looked as if Ponderosa would return the favor.
On fourth-and-2, quarterback Sam Stratton handed the ball off to running back Shaw Gifford. Gifford was hit almost immediately but powered through and gained a much-needed three yards to give Chatfield the first down.
“Coach Shaffer (the team’s offensive coordinator) trusted me enough on fourth-and-two and that meant a lot. It was a very crucial play,” said Gifford, who had 98 yards in the second half.
On first-and-10 from the Mustangs’ 21-yard-line, Stratton found Andrew Hood in the end zone for a touchdown with 4 minutes to play.
“Sam threw a good ball and I just turned around and caught it,” Hood said. “If it hadn’t been for Shaw’s play we wouldn’t have even had that opportunity.”
In fact, Chatfield (2-0) trailed most of the game. Ponderosa put the first points on the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter. Chatfield answered with its own field goal, but the Mustangs went ahead 10-3 late in the second when Michael Segura caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Thornton.
“I was a little shocked at what was going on (in the first half),” Stratton said. “We couldn’t move the ball. At halftime, coach (Bret McGatlin) reminded us that this week’s theme was ‘find a way to win’ and we came out in the second half and it just started clicking.”
Stratton also seemed to have an angel watching over him. The words “Jo Jo” were inscribed on his eye black patches, in memory of his grandmother, who passed away in June.