Moffat County football stopped cold in 2nd half to close season with loss to Aspen
ASPEN – With nothing to lose in its last round of Friday night lights, Moffat County High School football played some of its best ball in recent weeks during the first half of a season closer in Aspen.
Then came the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs finished the year 4-5 overall and 3-2 in 2A Western Slope League play with a 58-18 loss to the Skiers.
Needing a win to secure their first playoff appearance since 2013, the Skiers turned a two-point halftime deficit into a rout in a second half rally.
“I’d venture to say offensively we had the ball less than three minutes in the first half and I know it was less than 12 snaps,” Aspen coach Karson Pike said. “That’s not what plays into our hands very well. Getting the ball right away in the second half and being able to go right down and score changed that game pretty quickly.”
Aspen’s trip to the postseason was far from secure after two quarters on Friday. The Bulldogs led 6-0 on a touchdown catch by Cale Scranton and had effectively kept the AHS offense on the sideline the entire first quarter. But, as the quarter was coming to a close, Aspen senior quarterback R.J. Peshek dumped the ball off to junior receiver Noah Hollander, who raced 78 yards for a touchdown and 8-6 Aspen lead.
Soon after, an interception by sophomore Max Ufkes led to a Peshek to Ufkes touchdown from 9 yards out and AHS led 16-6 early in the second quarter.
However, Moffat answered with a slow, methodical touchdown drive ending with another completion from quarterback Colby Beaver to Scranton. They got the ball back via a surprise onside kick, and scored again on a QB sneak by Beaver to lead 18-16 at halftime.
“They were able to convert some long third downs, which was disappointing, even after they dug themselves a hole,” Pike said. “Our offense is so much about rhythm. We need the snaps, we need the plays, and once we were able to finally get those plays and really start rolling and get the confidence in and figure out how they were playing us defensively, we certainly got on a roll.”
Aspen left no doubt in the second half. The Skiers only needed 48 seconds of the third quarter to reclaim the lead, a 33-yard touchdown pass and catch from Peshek to Hollander making it 24-18 Skiers. A quick three-and-out by Moffat led to a short touchdown run by Aspen sophomore Trey Fabrocini and the rout was on.
After also successfully stealing a possession via an onside kick, Aspen took a 36-18 lead midway through the third quarter when Peshek connected with senior Jordan Hornburg from 35 yards.
Aspen finished out its scoring with a 10-yard pass and catch from Peshek to Hollander late in the third quarter, a 2-yard run by sophomore Jonathan Woodrow midway through the fourth quarter, and a 42-yard run by Fabrocini that started the running clock with less than four minutes to play.
Moffat County finishes third in the WSL behind the Skiers, whose only loss this year came to conference champions Basalt, 8-1 after a sweep of the league that finished at home with a 60-6 win over 0-9 Roaring Fork.
2A playoff brackets released Sunday placed Aspen 12th, matched against The Classical Academy. No. 6 Basalt, meanwhile, will host Salida.
Despite a difficult final game made trickier without key players like Miki Klimper and Alex Nevarez, the Bulldogs were able to record some respectable numbers on both sides of the ball, including two sacks by Colby Beckett to bring his season total to five. He led the team and the entire WSL in sacks for the regular season, as well as staying in front of everyone in the league in total tackles at 86, according to MaxPreps.
For the night, Beckett tied with Josh Teeter for eight tackles, while Teeter and Zane Shipman each also earned one sack.
At running back, Teeter saw play after play, earning 118 yards on the night for his first three-digit game. Scranton had 85 receiving yards, while Beaver was 13 for 31, throwing for a total 126, his highest-yardage passing game since the Dogs began league play, also running for 25.
Scranton finished the season fifth in the conference among receivers at 333, while Beaver’s 944 throwing yards put him at second in the WSL, behind only Peshek, who amassed 2,242 over nine games.
A Monday junior varsity game at MCHS against the Skiers was canceled due to not enough younger players from Aspen, and a replacement game with Middle Park also was called off.
Though the Dogs will see a lot of seniors moving on after this season, there is still plenty of talent to be fostered for the coming years, said MCHS head coach Keith Gille.
“I really think there’s something there, a lot of special kids, it’s a good group,” he said. “Time will tell because kids can grow so much in a year. It’s all about the weight room and just getting better.”