Basalt makes statement in win over Titans
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
BASALT, Colorado – Basalt quarterback Scott Hoffman tucked the ball, bolted for the near sideline and sprinted to the end zone.
The 34-yard, fourth-quarter scamper sealed a win Friday night – and likely an elusive 2A playoff berth, too.
Hoffman’s 34-yard score with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining blew open a two-possession game against visiting Coal Ridge, stretching the Basalt lead to 23-0. The Longhorns tacked on one more score down the stretch against an anemic Titans squad that turned the ball over seven times and cruised to a 29-0 win in a pivotal Western Slope showdown.
With the victory, Basalt improved to 7-3 overall, 4-2 in league play and vaulted into third place in the 2A Western Slope League. More important, it picked up some critical wild-card points that make it a virtual lock to make the postseason should it win on the road Friday in Cedaredge.
According to sources, the Longhorns have not been to the playoffs in nearly three decades.
“If we take care of business [next week], I know we’ll be in,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “I told the kids it’s fun to be in Game 9 and actually be playing for something instead of begging kids to come to practice.
“It was a special night for us.”
The night began with a critical stop on defense for the home team. Coal Ridge (6-3 overall, 4-2 in the 2A WSL) marched right down the field on the game’s first possession. The Longhorns stood tall with their backs to their own end zone, however, stopping Titans running back Brent Hazzard on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Later, Basalt put together a long drive of its own, one that covered 63 yards in 13 plays and chewed up more than five minutes. Hoffman helped the Longhorns strike first, connecting with receiver Carl Riggins on a 34-yard touchdown pass up the far sideline on the first play of the second quarter.
Basalt converted one fourth down on the drive, and also received some help; Hoffman fumbled the snap on an attempted punt and was driven to the turf by a Coal Ridge defender, who was whistled for a horse-collar tackle that gave the Longhorns a first down.
“I couldn’t even see the ball. [The defenders’] hands were up,” Riggins joked of Hoffman’s pass. “I was just praying for the ball to land in my hands. Somehow, it did.”
Later in the second quarter, Zach Mobilian extended the Basalt lead; he took a handoff, bounced outside, shed one tackler and rumbled 73 yards for a score.
The junior finished with 152 yards on 30 carries and also picked off a pass in the second half.
“I got a great block and had one guy to beat. I did,” Mobilian said. “Once you see the end zone, nothing’s stopping you.
“We came out every play and worked our butts off. … We didn’t want to let those guys ruin our season.”
While the Longhorns struggled at times on offense, their defense made sure the early lead held up. Basalt stifled a Titans squad that ran wild in a win over then-No. 1 Aspen last week.
Coal Ridge turned the ball over twice and punted four times in six first-half possessions. It fared no better in the second half, struggling to sustain drives or gain any yards on the ground or through the air.
The Titans fumbled on their first two possessions of the third quarter – the latter was recovered by Riggins. After going three-and-out, Coal Ridge then had a snap on third-and-12 go over the quarterback’s head and roll through the end zone, resulting in a safety.
“After Coal Ridge beat Aspen, we saw that [running back] Cody Walls had such a phenomenal game. We came in with a plan to control him,” Frerichs said. “I give our coaches and our players all the credit.
“After that first goal-line stand, we really had the momentum. That carried us. … Our defense controlled the game all night.”
The offense put things out of reach down the stretch. After Hoffman’s scoring run, Mobilian handed the ball right back to the offense with an acrobatic interception on the far sideline. Teammate Sam Morrison made the Titans pay, sprinting straight up the middle on third and long, cutting outside and outrunning the defenders on a 64-yard run to the end zone.
The celebration on the home sideline was underway.
“This is [the program’s] first good chance [at making the playoffs] in a long time,” Riggins said. “That was our one motivation. … We wanted this to be the year we finally did it.”
With one more win, the Longhorns likely are in.
“We’re so excited,” Frerichs said. “A lot of kids have put in a lot of hard work to get here.”
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