AURORA | A see-saw season opener between Rangeview and Westminster finally tipped in the Raiders’ favor in the second half Thursday night.
In a game that featured five lead changes and one long fumble return for a touchdown by each defense, coach Dave Gonzales’ Rangeview team eventually prevailed for a 26-22 season-opening victory at Aurora Public Schools Stadium.
Senior quarterback Quaid Vincent threw an early touchdown pass to Arealous Hughes and put the Raiders ahead for good with a 1-yard score late in the third quarter, sophomore Max Gonzales racked up 137 yards rushing and a score and Jaelon Wright returned a fumble 82 yards for the clinching points in the fourth quarter as Rangeview won its opening game for the first time since 2010.
In a game that was close to even from a statistical standpoint offensively — Westminster had 281 yards of total offense and 19 first downs to 257 and 15 for Rangeview — turnovers made the difference, as the Raiders recovered five Wolves’ fumbles and turned it over only two times themselves.
The teams traded scores in each of the first two periods as the lead went back and forth, with Westminster taking a 16-13 edge into the locker room at halftime. Nic Etchells gave the Wolves the edge when he had the ball land in his hands after it was knocked free from a rolling Vincent and took it back for a touchdown with just eight seconds remaining.
Vincent snuck into the end zone with 4:15 remaining in the third period to vault Rangeview back in front and the Raiders’ defense tacked on seven more points when Wright collected a fumble and raced 82 yards for a score.
Etchells powered in from 14 yards out to tighten the margin to four points, but the Wolves couldn’t get the go-ahead score.
Westminster’s Brandon Dickerson finished two yards shy of Gonzales for game-high rushing honors as he ran for 135 yards.
Vincent — in his first season as Rangeview’s starting quarterback — rushed for 55 yards and threw for 71 more a score, an 11-yard strike to Hughes in the first minute of the game.
Next up for Rangeview is a 7 p.m. contest on Sept. 4 against Overland at Stutler Bowl in a rematch of Aurora teams that met in the first round of last season’s Class 5A state playoffs. The Trailblazers prevailed in overtime.
Notes: Rangeview and Westminster used to play in the same East Metro League before realignment moved them apart ahead of the 2012 season. The last time the two squared off came on Oct. 21, 2011, when the Raiders posted a 34-22 road victory over the Wolves that essentially wrapped up the league championship that season.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
RANGEVIEW 26, WESTMINSTER 22
Score by quarters:
Westminster 8 8 0 6 — 22
Rangeview 7 6 6 7 — 26
Rangeview — Arealous Hughes 11 yard pass from Quaid Vincent (Taylor Thompson kick), 11:06
Westminster — Nate Howe 5 yard run (Brandon Dickerson run), 4:36
Rangeview — Max Gonzales 7 yard run (run failed), 11:54
Westminster — Nic Etchells 55 yard fumble return (Dickerson run), 0:08
Rangeview — Vincent 1 yard run (kick failed), 4:15
Rangeview — Jaelon Wright 82 yard fumble return (Thompson kick), 9:12
Westminster — Etchells 14 yard run (kick failed), 3:24
Westminster: Brandon Dickerson 21-135, Nate Howe 11-77, Nick Etchells 1-14, Jake Walklet 2-12, Marcus Martinez 2-11, Mario Gonzalez 5-7
Rangeview: Max Gonzales 31-137, Quaid Vincent 15-55, Davonte Wheaton 1-(minus 6)
Westminster: Walklet 2-8, 25 yards
Rangeview: Vincent 6-10, 71 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Westminster: Brian Hogan 1-13, Aaron Bettis 1-12
Rangeview: Elijah Blake 1-22, Elijah Reed 1-20, Areleous Hughes 2-18, Richard King 1-11, Gonzales 1-0