AURORA | Grandview football coach Tom Doherty wanted to see his team bounce back in its return to the field in the wake of a disappointing loss to Ralston Valley in Week 3.
The Wolves were up to the task Saturday afternoon at Legacy Stadium, weathering the physical play of visiting Fruita Monument before pulling away in the second half for a 42-21 Week 4 victory that moved them to 3-1 on the season.
Senior quarterback Liam Szarka threw four touchdown passes and rushed for another on a highlight reel run in the third quarter as Grandview posted its second game of 40-plus points and saw the defense stiffen in the second half to blow the game open.
The two teams were tied at 14-14 late in the first half with vastly contrasting styles.
Szarka orchestrated scoring drives of 45 seconds (which culminated in a 25-yard strike to senior Nate Denton) and 1 minute, 4 seconds, which included a 50-yard scramble and then a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior Xay Neto.
Fruita Monument (2-2) did it the opposite way as a grind-it-out team that looks like “the Columbine of the Western Slope” in Doherty’s words first went 13 plays over nearly seven minutes and scored on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Amari Wilson. The same result ended a 23-play drive that consumed 9:56 and Wilson threw to Andres Palafox for a tying two-point conversion.
But Szarka engineered a third scoring drive in three first half possessions with a 63-yard march that ended in a 32-yard touchdown connection with Denton (who finished with 88 yards on the day). The seven-point lead remained at halftime as senior Marcus Stevens sacked Wilson on the final play of the second quarter before he could launch a Hail Mary.
The Wolves scored again on the opening possession of the second quarter when Szarka scrambled out of the pocket and warded off a slew of defenders on his way to a remarkable 33-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead into double figures.
After Grandview’s first drive that didn’t end in points was stopped with a turnover on downs, freshman Jaxson Flores pounced on a fumble deep in Wildcats’ territory and junior Donavon Vernon ended a three-play drive with a short touchdown run.
Szarka’s last drive ended with seven-yard touchdown run to junior Kyler Vaughn — a factor on special teams who racked up 155 all-purpose yards — and completed a run of 28 unanswered points that made it 42-14.
Fruita Monument scored again on its last drive against Grandview reserves.
Doherty’s team closes out non-league play with a road game at Pomona (0-4) on Sept. 22.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter/X: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
GRANDVIEW 42, FRUITA MONUMENT 21
Score by quarters:
Fruita Monument 6 8 0 7 — 21
Grandview 14 7 14 7 — 42
Grandview — Nate Denton 25 yard pass from Liam Szarka (Kyle Chavez kick), 9:02
Fruita Monument — Amari Wilson 1 yard run (kick failed), 2:39
Grandview — Xay Neto 12 yard pass from Szarka (Chavez kick), 1:35
Fruita Monument — Wilson 1 yard run (Andres Palafox pass from Wilson), 3:39
Grandview — Denton 32 yard pass from Szarka (Chavez kick), 0:41
Grandview — Szarka 33 yard run (Chavez kick), 9:34
Grandview — Donavon Vernon 4 yard run (Chavez kick), 4:36
Grandview — Kyler Vaughn 7 yard pass from Szarka (Chavez kick), 9:47
Fruita Monument — Shad Huddleston 4 yard pass from Wilson (Corbyn Davis kick), 3:06
Grandview: Chris Blanks 7-87, Liam Szarka 5-82, Donavon Vernon 6-17, Kyler Vaughn 1-4
Grandview: Szarka 11-17, 188 yards, 4 touchdowns
Grandview: Nate Denton 4-88, Xay Neto 3-66, Vaughn 3-29, Blanks 1-5