In a game that lived up to expectations, the Moffat County High School varsity football team fought to an 18-17 victory over the Steamboat Springs Sailors Friday night at Gardner Field.
The Bulldogs improved to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in league play, while the Sailors dropped to 5-2 on the year and 2-2 in conference play.
"This win was a tremendous win for us and the kids showed a lot of heart," said Bulldogs coach John Haddan. "The attitude at halftime was that we knew that we were going to come back and we were going to win the ball game."
Sailors coach Mark Drake said his team played hard, but couldn't overcome the mistakes it committed.
"It was a very tough ball game to lose," said Drake. "We feel that our kids outplayed them and they they did an outstanding job out there. We coughed up the ball a couple of times and set things up for them and they took advantage of it."
In the fourth quarter, the Sailors had a 17-12 lead with three minutes left and had just forced the Bulldogs to punt, but MCHS recovered a fumble on the Sailors 35-yard line to set up the game-winning drive.
In that drive, the Bulldogs had a fourth and 10 and converted it when quarterback Jeff Gaylord, a junior, hit wide receiver Kevin Voorhees, a junior, for an 11-yard gain and a first down to keep the drive alive.
Bulldogs running back Frank Counts, a senior, ended the drive with a dive into the end zone from the 1-yard line for his second touchdown of the game with 46 seconds left in the game. The score put MCHS up by one, 18-17. The Bulldogs went for two, but came up short.
"This was our biggest win of the year," said Counts. "This is our rivalry and we all tried our hardest and we gave it our all at the end. We pulled it out. During the final drive we were just thinking that this was for the seniors and we just gave it 110 percent and it paid off."
The Sailors had one last chance to score, but the Bulldogs defense ended the game with two quarterback sacks as the clock ran out.
"We punched the ball in there at the end and it was a good drive for us," said Haddan. "The defense stepped it up at the end and we are just happy with the win."
Eric Duran, a senior, was the other Bulldog who got in the end zone as he did it by catching a 53-yard touchdown pass.
Offensively, the Bulldogs ended with 409 yards and Gaylord was six for 16 with 138 yards in the air. Voorhees finished with three catches for 65 yards to pace the team. On the ground, Counts finished with 122 yards and Nathan Browning, a junior, had 110 yards.
Kevin Field, a senior and middle linebacker, finished with 14 solo tackles and Matt Johnston, a senior and defensive lineman, made 11 tackles.
The Bulldogs will look to make it two in a row at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Glenwood Springs Demons come to town.