As far as the Moffat County High School football team is concerned, the difference between hosting Steamboat Springs in a state semifinal or sitting at home next week came down to one thing Saturday -- big plays.
The Florence Huskies scored on plays of 65 and 93 yards at the beginning of each half to take away any momentum the Bulldogs had to earn a spot into the Class 3A semifinals with a 33-13 win.
"That was definitely the difference," said Bulldogs senior defensive back Kelvin Grinolds, who couldn't hold onto running back Matt Ortiz during a 93-yard pass play for a touchdown. "We felt like we played with them and then you look at the scoreboard and it didn't say that."
"Those were huge," said Florence coach Mark Buderus about the game breaking plays his team made. "We knew if we could get past their front line we could get some plays and it didn't happen a lot but those couple of times counted."
The Huskies went into halftime with a 19-0 lead and most of the momentum. The Bulldogs only scoring chance in the first half came at the end of the half when Brad Hurd missed a 36-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs' defense tried to get the team back in the game in the third quarter when Kyle Fredrickson hit Husky quarterback Kevin Young and then grabbed the ball as it popped loose.
Moffat County's offense took over on the Florence 14-yard line. Two runs, a pass play and a penalty later, the Bulldogs turned over the ball on downs.
Three plays later on third-and- 11, Young hit Ortiz across the middle of the field and he outran everybody to give the defending state champions an insurmountable lead of 25-0.
"We saw on tape that they were a big-play team," Bulldog coach Kip Hafey said. "Time and time again we'd hold them and then they'd hit us with a 30-yard bust."
Florence's Ty Buderus set the tone the first time he touched the ball. The fullback received an inside hand off, bounced off five Bulldogs and then was gone for a touchdown with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter.
"In the Berthoud game, we stuffed them right away and we knew it was going to go well," said Moffat County defensive coordinator Lance Scranton. "When Buderus made that play, it was the opposite effect for us."
The rest of the first quarter both defenses held and the teams switched directions with the score of 6-0 in favor of Florence.
The Huskies drove from their 27-yard line to the Moffat County 38-yard line in the first two minutes of the second quarter. Then Young faked an inside handoff to Buderus, sat back in the pocket and then took off to the end zone. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 12-0.
After the kick off, the Bulldogs and Huskies both went three-and-out.
Another three-and-out by the Bulldogs and a 20-yard punt return for the Huskies gave them the ball at the Moffat County 40-yard line.
The Huskies stayed on the ground eating both the Bulldogs' defense and clock up and with 33 seconds left in the half, Buderus scored on a pitch from Young.
After the kickoff, Moffat County's Aaron Sanchez broke a 43-yard run to set up the aforementioned missed field goal by Hurd.
At halftime Sanchez and Buderus had similar yards with 99 and 103 respectively.
"That No. 7 is probably the best back we've played," coach Buderus said. "He carried those guys the first half."
After the pass play to put the Huskies up 26-0, the Bulldog defense kept some hope alive with a goal-line stop with 2:01 left in the third quarter. On the next play, quarterback Derek Duran threw an interception and the Husky offense wouldn't be denied twice in a row at the goal line as Young scrambled for his second score of the game to make it 33-0.
Sanchez made sure his team didn't get shut out in his last game late in the fourth quarter with a seven-yard touchdown with 2:40 left. On the last play of the game, senior Cody Palmer caught a 16-yard pass in the end zone to make the final score 33-13.
"Moffat County was a much better team than Skyview (the Huskies' opponent last week)," coach Buderus said. "This was a great win for us to beat a good team on the road."
"We went one step farther than last year and we have to proud of that," said senior linebacker Jason Mosher. "This was a great season and we had a blast. It's too bad it ended earlier than we hoped but we lost to a team that's going to go a long way."
Florence finished with 280 yards on the ground led by Buderus' 150 yards on 20 carries. Young rushed for 63 yards and was 5-7 passing for 124 yards. The Huskies' 386 yards of offense was well above the 215 average the Bulldog defense had been giving up.
Sanchez finished with 138 yards on 20 carries and was also 3-3 throwing for 48 yards. Duran finished the day 5-13 for 16 yards and the Bulldogs had 208 yards total offense.
The Huskies will host Steamboat Springs Saturday after the Sailors silenced D'Evelyn 22-0.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.