LAKEWOOD — Dakota Ridge junior Colin Stuhr had the ‘special’ play of the game late Friday afternoon at Jeffco Stadium.
Stuhr blocked the punt of Vista Ridge junior Christopher Livingstone with the Wolves punting from their own 26-yard line late in the first half. The defensive back picked up the loose ball and preceded to return it six yards into the end zone for the special team score.
“I went right through and blocked the ball,” Stuhr said. “I was lucky that the ball was just lying there and I could pick it up and score.”
The block, scoop and score gave Dakota Ridge — No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A football rankings — a 17-7 lead going into halftime. The Eagles (3-0 record) held on with a 41-21 victory.
“He (Stuhr) had a heck of a game,” Dakota Ridge coach Ron Woitalewicz said. “He is a disrupter for us for sure. That blocked punt and then to pick it up and score was big. It went from a tight game to giving us some breathing room.”
After Vista Ridge took a 7-0 lead on a 41-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Brayden Dorman to junior Keyon Burris midway through the first quarter, Dakota Ridge scored 17 unanswered points.
Junior running back Sean McNamara capped up a 75-yard touchdown drive for the Eagles with a 1-yard touchdown run. On the next Dakota Ridge possession, Max Hart gave the Eagles their first lead of 10-7 with a 43-yard field goal.
Four minutes later the huge special teams play by Stuhr increased the lead to 17-7
A bad snap over the head on Livingstone set up the lone score of the third quarter. Dakota Ridge took over on Vista Ridge’s 6-yard line. McNamara bulled into the end zone for his second touchdown on a 3-yard run to put the Eagles up 24-7.
The Eagles’ defense put good pressure on Dorman all night. Dakota Ridge sacked the young Vista Ridge quarterback four times in the first quarter alone.
“We wanted to rattle the young kid,” Woitalewicz said of getting early pressure on Dorman. “I think the first five or six plays they didn’t have a positive play from scrimmage.”
Stuhr all but sealed the victory on the first play of the fourth quarter. Stuhr intercepted Dorman with the Wolves backed up to their own end zone. The turnover set up the Eagles on Vista Ridge’s 11-yard line. It looked like he might have a chance for a defensive score, but it wasn’t meant to be as he slipped and fell around the 10-yard line.
“I was definitely thinking about it,” Stuhr said of having the chance for a special team and defensive touchdown. “It sucked to slip and fall down.”
McNamara would stroll into the end zone for his third score with 9:57 left to put Dakota Ridge up 31-7.
The second half wasn’t a thing of beauty. Penalties on both sides and several dropped passes made for the game to last nearly three hours.
“It was an ugly 41-21 win, but we’ll take it,” Woitalewicz said. “I’m going to tell the team we’ll take the win, but we’ve got to play better than that.”
Dakota Ridge has a good test against No. 7 Ponderosa (1-2) next Friday night at EchoPark Stadium in Parker. The Mustangs will be coming off a bye week after edging No. 9 Windsor on Sept. 13 in an early top-10 4A match-up.
“Ponderosa kind of put it on us last year,” Woitalewicz said referring to the Mustangs defeating Dakota Ridge 41-10 last season. “We’ll spend sometime talking about that for sure. They are a great program.”
Vista Ridge (1-2) finally has its home opener next week against Rampart on Friday, Sept. 27, in Colorado Springs. The Wolves started the season with three straight road games, including two trips to Jeffco Stadium having played 4A Jeffco’s Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge.