MAGNA — As legend would tell it's difficult to beat the same team twice in one year.
Apparently, the Judge Memorial football team doesn't pay attention to folklore — as the Bulldogs defeated Grantsville 35-19 for the second time this season, this time in a 3A play-in game, at Cyprus High School Tuesday afternoon.
Early on it looked as if the game was turning into the shootout at the OK Corral with both teams scoring with ease. On the third play from scrimmage, Grantsville's quarterback Bridger Boman – who was playing with two separated shoulders – found slot back Bryce Ekins on a five yard crossing route on the far side of the field. The 5-foot-7 speedy back would do the rest. After shaking a would-be tackler with a wicked juke move, he sprinted down the sideline for the 72-yard score to put the Cowboys up 6-0.
Grantsville looked as if it was dictating the flow of the game by forcing three and outs and embarking on long sustained drives throughout the first quarter. It wouldn't be until 1:24 in the first that Judge finally ignited the spark it was looking for.
It came courteous of spectacular special teams play.
After forcing a Grantsville punting situation, Judge Memorial's Christian Weidle hauled in the punt at his own 20-yard line. Then, with the help of great downfield blocking and a few shifty moves, the junior made a house call to put the Bulldogs up 7-6.
"(Christian) Weidle is a product of our special teams. Our special teams (players) are special; we treat them just like our starters," stated Bulldogs coach James Cordova. "We spend a lot of time on special teams and we work hard on it and to the kids credit — they focus and work real hard on it. We practice special teams every day."
The Cowboys, however, would retaliate with a score of their own the following possession after a 12-play drive that covered 71-yards and culminated with a one yard plunge by Ekins to push the score to 13-7.
The lead would last a mere 80 seconds as Bulldogs quarterback James Delacenserie lofted a floater to Elliot McGill who had beat his defender on a fake corner/post route from 45-yards out to give Judge the one-point lead once more.
Judge would extend the lead when it stopped Grantsville on 4th down-and-three at the Cowboys' 48-yard line with 4:03 remaining in the first half. Two plays later, Weidle went untouched 36-yards for the score.
The Cowboys would close out the first half with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Boman to Dalen Erickson but failed the two-point conversion attempt to end the half 21-19.
The defining moment in the game, however, came midway through the third quarter. From a combination of penalties and a quarterback sack, the Bulldogs were staring at a daunting 3rd-and-20. But Delacenserie rolled to his left and heaved a fade route to Collin Lawless, who had beat a single man-to-man coverage to the outside and was finally brought down at the Cowboys' 10-yard line. The Bulldogs would put the game out of reach when Delacenserie found pay dirt from one-yard out four plays later.
With the win Judge advances to the first round of the 3A playoffs and will play the Region 9 champion Cedar Redman.
"Not enough," said Cordova when asked how he felt with two days to prepare for Cedar. " I don't think adjustments are enough with Cedar. They're a tough, tough team, (but) we're playing football you know? There are a whole lot of people in this state that aren't playing football. We're just happy for the opportunity to play."