Moffat County football topples Basalt, 49-6
Basalt — Maybe there was something in the air, maybe it was coming off a bitter loss at home, maybe it was the knowledge that this one really counted, but whatever it was, the players on the Moffat County High School varsity football team came ready to play Friday night.
The Bulldogs had their first league win and their best game yet of the season against the Basalt Longhorns in a 49-6 slaughter.
The away game’s first half started with an MCHS kickoff, with Basalt coming up the field strong. The Longhorns were nearing scoring position on the drive when a tipped pass wound up in Matt Hamilton’s hands, leading to the Bulldogs’ first offensive opportunity.
The boys in blue worked quickly on their trip across the turf, soon finding the end zone with a 28-yard pass from Hamilton to Keenan Hildebrandt for their first touchdown to make it 7-0. Basalt almost immediately returned the ball on a fumble near the end of the first quarter. Shortly after the second quarter began, Hamilton and crew made it to the 1-yard line, where the quarterback ran it in for a second TD.
A failed extra point attempt started an odd trend for the rest of the game, with the Bulldogs unable to surpass six points on each of their scores on either kicks or two-point conversions.
“We’ve got to work on that in practices,” coach Keith Gille said, unsure of why so many kicks were either blocked or off the mark. “Those points can be huge in a close game.”
Still, there was no cause for complaint, as MCHS’s offense and defense dominated for the rest of the half.
Moffat County forced a punt after a third down sack with a 21-yard loss by Stelios Peroulis and quickly rammed their way back through Basalt’s defense, as Hamilton ran for another touchdown to make the score 19-0.
Two more interceptions in the quarter, one by Shandon Hadley and one by Hildebrandt, each led to Bulldog scores. Joe Camilletti found a 45-yard pass following Hadley’s pick, while Hildebrandt completed a 2-yard run with little time left in the half to bring the tally to 31-0.
Once the third quarter began, it looked like the Longhorns were prepared to fight back, necessitating an MCHS punt on the first possession and scoring as Bulldog defense got sloppy to get on the board, 31-6, but Moffat County’s refusal to allow the two-point conversion showed they were still in control.
In no time, they were back in the red zone, with Hadley rushing for 6 yards to make it 37-6.
Hadley again crossed the goal line 15 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs now up, 43-6. Basalt gave the ball back again, and shortly after, Eddie Smercina nearly clinched another Bulldogs TD only to have it called back on a holding penalty.
Hamilton’s desire to get one last score at this point almost got him injured when he was knocked out of bounds and sent limping to the bench after taking a helmet to the knee. Hildebrandt filled in at quarterback and promptly scored the eighth and final Bulldogs touchdown of the night, as the 43-point lead got the clock running and finished the game.
“It was a refreshing night. We played hard the whole game,” Gille said about the team’s improvement from previous games. “We had a lot of support, too. We had more fans in the stands than Basalt did. I’m proud of these kids and these fans who have stuck with us. It means a lot to us.”
The Bulldogs are now 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the 2A Western Slope North League, sharing the exact same record as Basalt. The conference win keeps the team in playoff contention, but there are still three more matches to end the season, and Gille doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself.
“Every game is crucial,” he said. “We’ll put another week of practice together and come out hard next Friday.”
As part of Moffat County High School’s Class of 2019 graduation ceremony, outgoing students took the opportunity to express their creativity, honor their past and look to the future atop their mortarboards.