Roaring Fork comeback stuns Longhorns, 30-27 |

Roaring Fork comeback stuns Longhorns, 30-27

Jon Mitchell
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Roaring Fork High School’s football team overcame a gamut of turnovers and mistakes on Friday. That ability to overcome eventually helped the Rams top the Basalt Longhorns, too.

Trae Moxley’s 17-yard touchdown reception from Tanner Nieslanik with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining capped the Rams’ rally from a 17-point deficit in the first quarter, helping Roaring Fork beat cross-valley rival Basalt, 30-27, at the Carbondale Middle School football field.

Basalt forced seven turnovers – four lost fumbles and three interceptions – and Roaring Fork fumbled the ball 12 times. Regardless, the Rams’ defense held Basalt’s offense to just 193 yards of total offense and just nine yards in the second half.

That defensive effort opened the door for the rally from Roaring Fork (1-0 overall). Four of the Rams’ fumbles came from Nieslanik, but the quarterback made up for it with three TD tosses and a 13-for-17, 269-yard passing performance. He also ran for 62 yards on 13 carries.

Moxley, the Rams’ big senior tight end who doubles as a wideout, caught seven passes for 146 yards and two scores. Roaring Fork also took advantage of miscues from Basalt, which finished with 12 penalties for 77 yards.

Matt Williams threw for 86 yards and a score for the Longhorns (0-2), on 4 of 16 passing – he completed four of his first six throws. Bert Garcia added field goals of 51 and 49 yards for Basalt, and his 51-yarder with 7:28 left in the first quarter put Basalt up, 10-0.

A high snap on a punt from Roaring Fork wound up in the end zone, and Basalt’s Tim Johnson pounced on it to put the ‘Horns up 17-0 after Garcia’s point-after kick.

Moxley’s 9-yard strike from Nieslanik got the Rams on the board in the second half, and a punt snap out of the back of the end zone from Basalt moved Roaring Fork within 24-8, following a 57-yard scoring jaunt from Basalt’s Cody Banc.

Roaring Fork crept closer in the third, as Nate Nieslanik’s 13-yard scoring run off an option pitch from Tanner Nieslanik pulled the Rams within 24-15. Mike Skinner brought the Rams even closer in the fourth, catching a jump ball from 26 yards out in the end zone amidst a crowd of Basalt and Roaring Fork players to pull the Rams within 24-22.

Garcia’s second field goal – a 49-yarder – put the Longhorns up 27-22 with 4:53 remaining. Not long after, Moxley capped the Rams’ 80-yard scoring drive in 3:10 to put the Rams up for good. Kerwin Hirro’s conversion run gave the Rams’ their final margin of victory.

Basalt got the ball back on their own 25 with 1:35 remaining, but Jessie Murillo intercepted Williams’ pass on Basalt’s first play of the drive to seal the Rams’ win.

Josh Andrade was big for Basalt’s defense.The senior defensive back had a pair of interceptions in the first half, and he also stripped the ball from Moxley on a 24-yard reception from the Roaring Fork senior, keeping the Rams from coming closer before halftime.

Roaring Fork’s defense forced 10 consecutive incomplete passes from Williams from the second quarter on. Tanner Nieslanik completed nine of his final 10 passes, with the only miss coming on a dropped pass in the fourth quarter.

The Rams continue non-league play next Friday when they play at Aspen. Basalt has a bye week next Friday, then begins Class 2A Western Slope League play Sept. 14 at home against Bayfield.

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