The Kanab Cowboys lost their season opener last Friday night to Richfield 20-7. Kanab actually could have won the game 21-20, as they had two touchdowns called back on penalties, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth. And … they also could have been beaten 34-7, as Richfield also had two second half touchdowns called back. The first game jitters were evident on both teams.

Richfield was much bigger on the line and put up 20 points in the first half. With some halftime adjustments, as well as three second half turnovers by Richfield, the Cowboy defense played much better. The offense played better also … except for the untimely penalties.

Richfield got on the scoreboard first as they pounded the ball on the ground behind their big “O” line, driving 78 yards on their first possession. Wildcat quarterback Stanford Henderson covered the last 11 yards, scoring a TD with 4:52 left in the first period. Richfield completed two passes on the drive, but picked up huge gains on the ground.

On their second possession of the game, Kanab drove to midfield. After a five yard penalty and four yard loss, the Cowboys were facing a second and 19. Kanab quarterback Merrill Terry threw an ill-advised pass in the flat that was read perfectly and picked off by Richfield linebacker #43. He almost returned the pick for a touchdown before a hustling Terry brought him down on the five yard line. On the next play, Richfield running back Brady Ellis rambled in from five yards out to make it 14-0.

The Cowboys answered with a nice drive of their own, covering 78 yards. The 10 play drive had several big plays. The first being a 33 yard pass play from Terry to wide receiver Hadin Jones. The second big play was huge, when Kanab faced a fourth and five from the Richfield 28. QB Merrill Terry went back to pass, but scrambled when no one was open and picked up the first down with a nine yard gain. After a five yard loss and an incomplete pass, Terry hooked up with freshman wideout Hunter Jackman for a 16 yard gain to the Wildcat nine yard line. On the very next play, Terry threw a jump ball to Jones, who skied for it, and brought it down in the end zone for a nine yard touchdown catch. The Davin Houston extra point kick made it 14-7. The score came with 8:25 left in the second quarter.

Richfield didn’t take long to reach the end zone for a third time, as they capped off another 78 yard drive with an eight yard run by #43. The Wildcat drive took 4:25 and was helped by two Kanab penalties. The score came with 4:06 left in the first half. The Cowboys drove down to the Richfield 23 yard line, before they turned the ball over on downs. 

Richfield’s Riley Cunningham returned the second half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, only to have it called back a on push in the back penalty on the Wildcats. The penalty still gave Richfield excellent field position on the Kanab 36 yard line. After picking up one first down, Davin Houston received a Richfield fumble on the Kanab 18 yard line. On the very next play, Richfield safety Stanford Henderson picked off a long Terry pass on the Kanab 46 yard line. This time the Kanab “D” held and forced the first Richfield punt of the game.

The Cowboys received the punt on their own 14 yard line, and picked up a couple first downs, when they faced a fourth and eight from their own 38. Punter Hadin Jones took the snap, surveyed the field, and seeing no rush, took off down the right sideline all the way to the Richfield 34 before being tackled. It was obvious this was not a called fake punt, but an excellent move by a smart punter. Terry came up with another clutch run later in the drive. Facing a third and 16, he was back to pass once again, and scrambled for a 25-yard gain to the Richfield 15. QB Terry threw another jump ball in the end zone to Jones, who hauled it in for his second TD, only to have it called back on a illegal man downfield penalty on Kanab. The Cowboys drove the ball to the four-yard line and had a first and goal. Unfortunately, they could not score and the Wildcats took over on downs on the Kanab four.

Richfield drove down to the Kanab 24 yard line before another Wildcat fumble was recovered by Cody Glover. After an incomplete pass and a five-yard run by Terry, Kanab was looking at a third and five. Freshman quarterback Monte Glover replaced Terry, who was roughed up on the previous play. Glover threw a perfect pass, about 25-30 yards downfield to Jones, who hauled it in and sprinted to paydirt from 71 yards out. An illegal motion penalty on the Cowboys negated this play. Glover’s first throw as a Cowboy went for six, only to see it called back. Penalties are killers!

Richfield received the Kanab punt on their own 45-yard line. On the first play, Wildcat QB Henderson took off on an option keeper all the way to the end zone, for a 55-yard TD, only to have that score called back on a block in the back penalty on Richfield. The visitors drove down to the Cowboy 34 yard line when cornerback Brandon Southwick intercepted a pass and returned it to the Kanab 42. Both teams had one more possession but neither could mount a drive and the game ended 20-7 in favor of Richfield.

Coach Bucky Orton was pleased with his defense’s effort … in the second half … but felt his offense struggled, especially with the costly penalties.

Player of the game  goes to wide receiver/punter Hadin Jones, who caught three touchdowns, only to have two called back on penalties!

This Friday, Kanab travels to Beaver, with kickoff at 7 p.m.