ENGLEWOOD — Wyllis McKissick scored four touchdowns as No. 2 Kent Denver beat No. 7 Gunnison on Friday evening.
McKissick, a senior, led the Sun Devils to a 41-13 win in Class 2A action.
"I was nervous this morning, couldn't get any sleep last night, so I'm glad it worked out how it did," McKissick said after the game.
The Sun Devils (1-0) got the game off on the right foot. Tom Boatman, a senior, intercepted a pass on the first drive of the game, but Kent wasn't able to convert deep into Gunnison (0-1) territory. McKissick fumbled the ball on the second play near the goal line.
"Definitely a lot of things we can work on," he said. "We didn't have our strongest start, but once we got the ball rolling, we turned up the heat and its good to see that."
After the turnover, the running back and his team seemed to forget about the play completely and dominated throughout on offense and defense.
Gunnison struggled to get anything going on offense in the first half and was forced to punt five times. In the second quarter, McKissick's 57-yard run for a touchdown made it 20-0. Later in the quarter, he broke tackles for another long run touchdown, this one 48 yards.
Gunnison wasn't able to gain any momentum against their opponent's physical defense.
"Kent is a good football team, we played a little tentative and a little tight," said first-year Gunnison coach Shane Zimmerman. "I think we can get a lot better. We've got nowhere to go but up."
In the second half, the Sun Devils continued to control the running game. McKissick added a third touchdown in the third quarter of four yards. His final score was a 45-yard run.
Last season, Jaden Franklin was Kent Denver's start — he had 1,971 yards and 36 rushing touchdowns. It looks like the Sun Devils have a very capable replacement.
"We have the potential to have a great running team," said Kent Denver coach Scott Yates. "There is a lot of things we need to do a lot better — up front as far as protection and blocking — that we didn't do today at times.
"We had a couple of plays where our running backs made spectacular individual efforts. Wasn't like we had a great big hole."
Last season, Kent Denver went undefeated during the regular season and lost in dramatic fashion, a 14-6 defeat to Brush in the 2A title game which came down to a goal-line stand.
"We think we have a chance to be pretty competitive," Yates said. "But, the truth is this is our first game this year. We have so many things to work out and get better.
"Obviously the goal is to make it all the way to the end, but it is too early for me to be projecting that at all."