Dolores, Colo., staves off Shiprock 24-14

Four turnovers bite the Chieftains in home-opening loss

Jake Newby
  • Steve Lara rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown in the Chieftains' home-opening loss.
  • Shiprock and Dolores committed four turnovers apiece.
  • Dolores quarterback Justin Purkat tossed three touchdowns and rushed for one more.
  • Chieftains QB Rakeem Anagale hurt his shoulder late in the fourth quarter but should be good to go for next week's game versus Gallup.

SHIPROCK — A 60-yard kick return and ensuing touchdown from the visiting Dolores, Colo., football team stole the momentum and flattened Shiprock's hopes of a comeback win tonight at Chieftain Stadium.

Dolores' Logan Fuller picks off a pass intended for Shiprock's Adrian Gibson on Friday at Chieftain Stadium in Shiprock.

The Chieftains, donning black uniforms in their home opener, fell behind 18-0 but slowly chipped away in the second and third quarters. But the momentum Shiprock (1-2) gained from a 14-0 run was wiped away when the Bears returned a kickoff for 60 yards as the third-quarter buzzer sounded and then scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth period.

The score — a 10-yard quarterback sweep by junior signal caller Justin Purkat — was the final one of the game. Dolores (1-1) held on to win 24-14.

The Bears racked up a little more than 200 yards in penalties and turned the ball over four times, but still did enough to sneak away victorious, thanks in large part to Purkat's performance. Purkat threw three touchdown passes in the first half and and rushed for another.

As a team, the Bears picked up 164 yards on 32 carries, but Shiprock's defense did hold Dolores to just the one second-half score, which was set up by the long kick return.

Chieftains coach Eric Stovall said he was encouraged by his defense's effort.

"I thought defensively we showed a lot of heart and a tremendous ability to stay together," Stovall said. "We showed the ability to play through adversity, and we're learning. Come district time, it'll pay dividends."

With the hosts down 18-0 near the end of the first half, a 32-yard run by Steve Lara set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rakeem Anagale to wide receiver Donovan Chee.

Shiprock's Donovan Chee catches a touchdown pass against Dolores on Friday at Chieftain Stadium in Shiprock.

After the break, Shiprock remained fired up and forced and recovered a Dolores fumble on the first possession of the second half.

With only 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter, an eight-play Shiprock drive culminated in a 12-yard Lara touchdown run to make it an 18-14 game. Lara was a machine on that drive, carrying the ball six times for 57 yards.

Shiprock's senior rusher was unstoppable for most of the night with 19 carries for 144 yards. He followed his blockers, made sharp cuts and often broke the first tackle attempt on each of his carries. Stovall said Lara has looked like a complete runner.

"He's strong, he's powerful and he has somewhat deceptive speed," Stovall said. "He's definitely a worker."

But the life was sucked out of Chieftain Stadium on the kickoff after Lara's score.

And late in the fourth, on a broken play when Shiprock was getting desperate, Anagale tried to scramble for a first down on a fourth-and-6 play and was hit hard by a Bears defender. The team turned it over on downs, and the QB's shoulder was injured in the process.

Anagale was pulled from the contest in favor of junior Darnell Chee, who threw an interception and fumbled the ball away on Shiprock's next two drives.

Shiprock's Steve Lara breaks a tackle on Friday during a game against Dolores at Chieftain Stadium in Shiprock.

The Bears' pass rush was on point, according to Stovall.

"I thought they brought a lot of pressure up front. Mixing their defensive fronts, they threw a four-man front at us, a three-man front and an even front at us at different points," Stovall said. "They did a good job of applying the pressure when necessary on key downs, and it allowed them to create some turnovers."

Like the Bears, Shiprock committed four turnovers. The Chieftains also lost an onside kick and touched the ball on a separate kickoff, which Dolores recovered.

Stovall said Anagale should be ready to go for Shiprock's home tilt against Class 5A's Gallup (1-0) next week.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.