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Falcons’ ground game beats down Diggers

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By Craig Harper
For the Courier
Roster numbers alone suggested that Front Range Christian would wear down Clear Creek in the second half of their 1A Metro League football game Oct. 18.
The visiting Golddiggers suited just 18 players, including Jordan Howard, their leading rusher and passer, who saw limited duty on offense because of a sore hip. By contrast, the Falcons had no personnel issues, particularly with their 1-2 running back combination of Tanner Matoba and Seth Scadden.
Clear Creek hung tough playing to a 14-14 tie in the first half before Front Range Christian scored 28 unanswered second-half points and rolled to a 42-14 victory that kept them in the hunt for a state playoff berth.
Matoba rushed for a career-high 301 yards — his third straight game over 200 yards — and two touchdowns and Scadden added 128 yards and three scores as the Falcons (4-4, 4-2 Metro) amassed 484 yards on the ground and won their third straight after losses to Jefferson and Lyons.
“We showed up to play in the second half,” said FRCS coach Jordan Quinn, whose team uncharacteristically committed three first-half turnovers. “Our game plan started to work. It just took a little bit for the guys to wake up, get motivated.”
That game plan includes lots of breakaway runs by Matoba, supported by Scadden. Matoba had touchdown runs of 65 and 36 yards and Scadden had scoring jaunts of 8, 51 and 27. “Both of them had a great game,” Quinn said. “Anytime you put the ball on those guys’ hands and they can go, it’s a great job. The O-line struggled a little bit in the first half but, man, did they step it up in the second half.”
“Something’s clicked for us these last three weeks,” Matoba said. “Seth, he’s kind of like the guy in the background. He’s not a flashy kind of guy but he definitely gets the job done.”
Clear Creek (3-4, 1-4) had no answer for FRCS’s ground game — especially on the outside — and managed just 73 yards offense (5 rushing) with a pair of turnovers that led to FRCS scores in the second half.
“Our ends and outside ‘backers were taking poor angles to the running back,” Golddiggers coach Brian Inman said. “And we didn’t tackle well at times. But mostly it was poor pursuit angles.”
On offense, Clear Creek’s “wildcat” formation, with two or three backs set up to take a direct snap, was effective in the first half. Jared Cook, who replaced Howard at quarterback and had a strong game a week earlier against Denver Christian, rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns. His second score, a 1-yard plunge with 11.7 seconds left in the half, followed a 63-yard catch-and-run by Chandler Morgan.
“It’s a variation of the old single wing,” Inman said. “We like it because we can run out of it and it’s kind of deceptive as to who’s getting the ball. And we can also throw out of it. We’ve gotten better at it as the season’s gone on. We probably could’ve stuck with it a little bit more in the second half.”
Front Range Christian, which closes the regular season Oct. 26 against Estes Park, is making a late-season push for a playoff spot. The Falcons split with co-Metro front-runners Platte Canyon and Jefferson but one-point losses to Wiggins and Lyons could prove costly.
“These guys have worked hard year-round and I think they’ve arrived,” Quinn said. “We keep getting better every game. We’ve played through adversity, we’ve played in tight games and we’ve fought hard.”
Inman and the Golddiggers know their numbers don’t portend success, but they’re hopeful they still can reach .500 with a win over Platte Canyon on Oct. 25.
“We played (FRCS) tougher than Platte Canyon did, so I think we can beat Platte Canyon this year,” Inman said. “We’ll take the bodies we’ve got now. We need them to be healthy. We’ve got some kids that are sick. Jordan’s hurt and we had two kids just come off concussions.”