If saves could be awarded in football like baseball, Arapahoe quarterback Gabe Peterson deserves one.
Arapahoe edged Mountain Vista, 7-6, on Sept. 19 at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch in the final non-league game for both schools.
With the Warriors nursing the lead and trying to run out the clock with 2:20 remaining in the game, Peterson rolled to his right, avoided a Mountain Vista tackler, bounced off two other defenders and wound up gaining 8 yards. He picked up a first down instead of a possible 5-yard loss.
That play virtually sealed the victory for an Arapahoe team that was playing its second game in four days.
“I guess it was a pretty big play,” said Peterson. “I was just trying to get the first down and trying to get the win. When that guy came right at me I thought I was either going to have to truck him or juke him. I decided to juke him. I made the right decision.”
Mountain Vista did get the ball back deep in their own territory with 20 seconds remaining but an incomplete pass and a sack saddled the Golden Eagles with their second loss in four games.
“That was the best play of the night for us on offense,” Arapahoe coach Mike Campbell said of Peterson's third down scramble. “He won the game on that play. That play put the game away. I didn't like everything our quarterback did with the ball throwing it but I did like what he did with his feet.”
The victory, coming after a 41-40 overtime loss to Fort Collins Sept. 16 in a game that was postponed from Sept. 13 because of heavy rains, boosted Arapahoe's record to 3-1.
“Everyone on this team is beat up,” confessed Peterson. “We were still feeling the Fort Collins loss but we came back and won.”
Arapahoe opens Super 6 league play Sept. 26 against Columbine and a normal week of rest and preparation was welcomed.
“We played two one-point games in four days,” pointed out Campbell. “I don't think anybody else will be able to say that this year.
“I'm not sure we should have played that game on Monday (against Fort Collins) especially how it looks like it will go nowhere, a no-play is better than a loss. Maybe we should have not played it and had all our players out here and done better against Mountain Vista. But we didn't get that memo until noon on Monday (Sept. 16).”
Arapahoe scored on its first possession of the game, driving 50 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead with 8:19 to play in the first quarter.
Peterson, who passed for 79 yards and ran for 47 in the game, connected with Ethan Brunhofer on three straight passes, the last one for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Mountain Vista came back on the next possession and drove 80 yards in nine plays with Nick Schmalz scoring on a 3-yard run. However, the Golden Eagles missed the extra point kick and trailed by a point with 4:33 left to be played in the first quarter.
There was no more scoring in the game, although Mountain Vista had three chances to score in the first half.
Vista linebacker Tyler Spond returned an intercepted pass 79 yards to the Arapahoe 6-yard line but the Golden Eagles failed to score on a fourth and goal from the 2-yard line on the first play of the second quarter.
Mountain Vista took possession at the Arapahoe 44- and 34-yard lines later in the second period but couldn't take advantage of ideal field position.
“We had lots of chances,” acknowledged Golden Eagles coach Rick Cash. “Lost opportunities are what stand out. It is part of competition, it's part of games. There are situations where you take chances and if they work out then it's great. If they don't work out, then you end up looking at a situation where we go a whole game after scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter and nobody else scores. Who would have thought that would be how it works out.
“So you take that chance. Should we have kicked a field goal on the opportunity when we were on the goal line, you can second guess that like every other decision made. When it doesn't work out, it's always easy to second guess.”
After the first quarter, the game turned into a defensive slugfest. Defensive lineman TJ Scherping had nine tackle to pace a Vista defense that held Arapahoe to 233 yards total offense.
Mountain Vista had only 144 yards total offense.
“Our `D' was awesome,” said Campbell. “A lot of bend but no break. Jaylen Mosqueira (senior linebacker) had a huge night. I though our D line with Kyle Foss and Alex Schmidt played well. We got great play from our back safeties, they were making some great tackles in the open field.”
Mountain Vista begins Continental League play Sept. 26 against Douglas County and Cash hopes to have a two of his three injured captains in the lineup.
Running back Tanner Smith is lost for the season with a knee injury. Wide receiver Rocco Palumbo missed the second half of the Arapahoe game with an ankle injury and Spond banged up his shoulder late in the game.
“I'm proud of my boys,” said Cash. “We have three captains on our team and all three of them are out with injuries. That's tough on a team. That's a lot of adversity and we had some other things that were self-induced things and some other things that just went against us. It was too much adversity for a team that honestly is awfully young.
“That being said, what Arapahoe was able to do in their very difficult circumstance, hats off to them. They did a great job.”