Journal-Advocate (Sterling)

Fleming football barely escapes Granada, headed to title game

- By Alissa Noe

Fleming football knew its semifinal matchup wouldn’t be easy.

After all, 6-man’s No. 2 seed had to face its toughest opponent of the state playoffs when No. 3 Granada came to town. Naturally, the two teams took it down to the wire in a game that seemed devoid of defense. The Wildcats barely escaped with the W in a 68-60 overtime thriller.

The Bobcats found their offensive fire early, putting 38 points on the board in the first half while holding the Wildcats to 16. That didn’t sit right with Fleming.

The Wildcats stormed back in the third and fourth quarters to put 22 points on the board in each — including 16 in the final 16 minutes of regulation — and held the Bobcats to scoring 22 total. That tied the ballgame at 60 points apiece to trigger overtime.

They sealed the deal with one more touchdown and two-point conversion.

Now, the Wildcats will have to prepare for the 6-man state title game, set to take place at Thunderbow­l Stadium at CSU Pueblo on Friday at 1 p.m. Fleming will have to face off with its formidable opponent to date in No. 1 Stratton, the owner of one of Fleming’s two losses during the regular season.

The last time the two teams met, the Eagles ran away with a 53-13 victory. During that contest, the Eagles held the Wildcats to just 97 yards rushing while collecting 177 yards of their own. The real difference, however, was in the four fumbles that Stratton’s defense caused and recovered.

That will be the first thing the Wildcats need to watch out for during their state title rematch. They’ll need to find a way to shut down Stratton’s run game, specifical­ly running back Alex Cruz (1,422 rushing yards, 37 touchdowns) and running back Cyler Notter (822 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns).

If the Wildcats can take those two out of the equation and focus on taking care of the ball more, they just may walk away with state championsh­ip number five.

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