Moffat County football tears into league leader Basalt in energetic Homecoming game | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County football tears into league leader Basalt in energetic Homecoming game

It may not have been an entry in the win column for Moffat County High School football, but when faced with the top-ranked team of the 2A Western Slope League, Bulldogs took a bite out of their opponents to show it’s anyone’s game in the conference slate.

MCHS’s Saturday afternoon Homecoming match-up with Basalt ended with a 33-13 loss to the Longhorns, a result that was a mix of good and bad for the Bulldogs.

The MoCo Hoco energy provided an immediate boost for the Dogs, who kicked off to start and other than a 30-yard reception by Longhorn Dawson Hodgson, Bulldog defense stopped the opening drive cold.

With an undefeated record this season combined with a defense that had only allowed six points, Basalt’s reputation was on Moffat minds but not enough to intimidate them as they took over. A little bit of luck and a Longhorn offsides call on fourth down got the Dogs into enemy territory, and no sooner were they in the red zone when Colby Beaver found Cale Scranton from 18 yards out to gain the first score.

Basalt’s shock at being behind for the first time this season helped them deflect Joahan Quezada’s extra point kick as they readied to get back in gear.

MCHS was soon down a man when lineman Bryson Davis limped off the field with a knee injury, while the Longhorns gained enough small gains to stay ahead of the chains, ultimately finishing with a counter play by Jake Reardon with seven yards straight to the goal line, adding a PAT to boot to make it 7-6.

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A Bulldog push to retaliate didn’t go anywhere, but the blue boys locked down Basalt at midfield with batted-down passes and more, including a sack of quarterback Trevor Reuss by Scranton to end the first period, and the Longhorns’ fake punt attempt didn’t materialize.

Neither side scored in the second period, but it was far from dull with plenty of turnovers, starting with Scranton stripping the ball from Reardon as Kevin Hernandez recovered the fumble.

In the air, Bulldog Dagan White gained his fifth turnover in as many games with a deep-coverage interception of Reuss, while Beaver was quickly picked off by Basalt’s Rulbe Alvarado.

With Longhorns primed to score again, Tyler Fortune returned the favor with a grab that turned the action around as he got 16 yards for Moffat County on the return.

“I really wanted to get a win for the seniors, help them go out with a bang,” said the MCHS junior.

Though Bulldogs couldn’t get any more points on the board before the horn, spirits were high and only got higher with performances by the cheer team and band, followed by the Homecoming coronation.

MCHS Student Council selected the school’s custodial staff as honored faculty. Attendants for the freshman class were Logan Hafey and Emma Jones; Blake Juergens and Emaleigh Papierski for the sophomores; while White hustled back to the field to join Marlyn Arellano to represent the juniors.

Homecoming king and queen went to seniors Jared Atkin and Quinn Pinnt.

The invigorated home team returned the second-half kickoff and stayed stuck at the 45 from there, with a punt into the wind giving Basalt extra yardage, swiftly getting the ball rolling as Reardon scored again from five yards.

He added another TD from 17 late in the third quarter, while the Moffat County offense started to implode with a disastrous drive that saw Beaver sacked twice in a row as the Bulldogs went backward and Hernandez barely got off the punt from within his own end zone.

The Longhorn lead kept growing as Reardon scored all five of the team’s touchdowns with 227 total rushing yards, but Moffat County defense started clicking again as Victor Silva snatched a midfield pass from Reuss for the interception and Beaver whipped it to Scranton and Josh Teeter for quick gains, with Scranton scoring again to get the team into double digits.

“That third quarter really kicked us in the pants, but the guys really came out strong and played their tails off,” MCHS coach Jamie Nelson said.

Beaver threw for 110 yards with 10 of 22 passes finding their mark, as well as a personal best in rushing for the Bulldog QB with 42 yards, part of 109 the team had on the turf, with Hernandez adding 25 and Dario Alexander 15.

Scranton ran for 14 yards while he was under center, as well as catching for 87.

On the other side of the ball, Scranton’s return to defense amounted to 16 total tackles to lead the day, with Teeter and Angel Rodriguez tying for 13 and 10 for Hernandez.

Altogether, the Dogs amassed 100 tackles to exemplify a game where giving up was never an option.

“We pretty much shut them down there at the start and kept getting those hits where we needed them,” Logan Knez said. “We played hard, just couldn’t get the offense moving.”

In RPI rankings, Basalt was third in 2A going into the day, the highest placement for the conference, a status that didn’t escape Bulldog coaches.

“Our players understood with the rankings what they were in for, that this was an opportunity to come out and upset a really good team,” Nelson said. “We’re getting better, but we’re still making too many mistakes.”

Though Nelson was stung by the loss for the 2A WSL debut, the highlights of the day were that, despite Basalt’s pristine tally — now 5-0 — the Dogs are the first team this season to score more than one TD against the Longhorns, proving a legitimate threat to the defending conference champs.

While not too concerned with the score, Basalt coach Carl Frerichs noted that every week is a battle in the campaign to get to the playoffs, and despite missing several starters the squad was able to adjust after being caught unaware.

“We were really on our heels in the first half then really came out and played well in the second. Coach Nelson did a great job — they were prepared and had a good little defensive scheme,” Frerichs said.

While Basalt has spoiled two consecutive Homecoming games — shutting out Paonia 16-0 the week before — the Longhorns will return to their own school pride game, hosting Coal Ridge Oct. 5, the Titans looking to recover from a 36-8 loss to Rifle.

MCHS is 2-3 as they look toward their next league foe, traveling to Aspen. The Skiers were in Delta Friday and fell 49-40 to the Panthers.

The schematic will be wholly different for the new week against a pass-heavy team like Aspen compared to Basalt’s commitment to the ground game, Nelson said, but he has faith that defense will be able to adapt.

“Proud of our players; we’re learning and growing,” he said.