Mullen edges Eagles in opener

Dan Johnson
Posted 8/30/12

HIGHLANDS RANCH - The streak of consecutive wins could be two or, in the case of Valor Christian, 25. Either way, the old adage in football still …

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Mullen edges Eagles in opener

HIGHLANDS RANCH - The streak of consecutive wins could be two or, in the case of Valor Christian, 25.
Either way, the old adage in football still holds true in 2012:
Turn the ball over more than your opponent, and your chances for victory decrease.
The Eagles found that out first-hand on Aug. 24 in a Zero Week game against Mullen in front of more than 8,000 fans at Valor Christian High School. The Eagles turned the ball over three times in the second half, the third and final turnover a fumble in Mustangs’ territory with less than two minutes to play.
Out of timeouts, Valor Christian was powerless to stop the clock and Mullen ran off the final few seconds and celebrated its 14-13 victory as the final horn sounded.
“It feels horrible,” said Valor Christian linebacker, Carlos Aviles, who had one of four sacks of Mullen quarterback Gasper Dominici. “It’s never good to lose. We had too many turnovers and too many mistakes. We’ve got to get that cleaned up.”
Aviles’ coach, Brent Vieselmeyer agreed that the turnovers and penalties were costly, but also saw another area of concern.
“It was a two-play game,” Vieselmeyer said. “Mullen did a great job on third down to extend drives and then the two touchdown plays they had were the
Down 14-13 after Dominici threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Gomerdinger early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles still had a chance to come away with a victory after they recovered a fumble by Mullen running back Conor Brady with 2:51 remaining in
the game.
Luke Del Rio, in his first game as starting quarterback at Valor Christian, connected with Alex Ulmer (10 catches, 130 yards) on a 9-yard pass on third-and-6 that moved the chains and placed the ball on the Mullen 34-yard line.
Del Rio finished the game 19-of-34 for 168 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
On the next play, the Eagles ran an option dive up the middle.
There was room for Daryl Hawkins (he led the Eagles with 56 yards rushing) to run but a Mullen defender managed to get his hand on the ball and strip it from Hawkins’ grasp. The Mustangs recovered the football, essentially ending the game with the change of possession.
“We’re a young team that’s going to keep getting better,” Vieselmeyer said. “I think we had some early jitters but the guys competed hard and I’m proud of their effort.”
The Mustangs opened the game on offense and quickly put the game’s first points on the board as Dominici threw a screen pass to Patrick Healy, who took the ball and cut down the left sideline and 65 yards later, found the end zone.
Del Rio set up Valor Christian’s first points of the game with a gorgeous 50-yard strike to Ulmer (who made a great diving catch) that moved the ball to the Mullen 16-yard line.
Five plays later the Eagles capped off the drive as Del Rio threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey early in the second quarter to even the score.
Valor Christian took its first — and only — lead of the game on its third possession of the third quarter. Cameron Gray took an option pitch from Del Rio and raced down the sideline for a 28-yard touchdown run that put the Eagles ahead 13-7 with 6:55 to play in
the quarter.
Later in the quarter the Eagles were threatening to move into scoring position once more but Del Rio’s pass was intercepted by Mullen’s Damien Douglas on the Mustangs’ 19-yard line.
The two teams would exchange punts before Mullen put together what ultimately proved to be the game-winning drive.
Brady softened the Eagles’ defense up with four straight runs and then on the fifth play, Dominici lofted a perfect 35-yard pass to Gomerdinger — who ran past two Valor Christian defensive backs — that evened the score. The extra point but Mullen up one, 14-13, with 9:49 to play.
“We expected to win, so it’s disappointing to not get the outcome you want,” Aviles said. “We have to put it behind us, though, and get back to work and improving as a football team.”


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