Green’s PAT seals Rams 21-20 overtime win
CARBONDALE – The Hotchkiss Bulldogs controlled the clock with long, time-consuming drives for much of Friday night’s game, but, after an overtime series, it was the Roaring Fork Rams who owned the scoreboard at the Roaring Fork High School.
The Roaring Fork offense got on track in time for James Leonard to score in the game’s final minutes and again in overtime, and a Max Green extra point sealed the 21-20 victory.
“They came out with a good defensive scheme and their kids played inspired football,” Roaring Fork coach Tory Jensen said of the winless Hotchkiss squad. “They came out and battled and battled. We’ve got to win those kind of games and you’ve got to love the heart (Roaring Fork showed).”
Regulation play ended with the score knotted at 14-all.
Hotchkiss (0-2 Western Slope Conference, 0-4 overall) scored on the first overtime attempt with a 5-yard naked bootleg by quarterback Gates Shaklee on third and goal (in overtime each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line with four downs to get the ball into the end zone or kick a field goal). A failed fake kick attempt put Hotchkiss up 20-14.
Leonard didn’t have his typical 100-yard plus game – finishing with 57 yards – but he ran well when it counted.
After a 5-yard run by Ross Velasquez on the first play of the Rams’ overtime set, Leonard swept outside and evened the score at 20-all with a 5-yard run of his own. Green put the game on ice with the extra point.
Roaring Fork (2-0, 3-1) led Hotchkiss 7-6 deep into the fourth quarter until the Bulldogs mounted a 10-play, 51-yard drive which Shaklee finished off with a bootleg identical to the play that scored the overtime touchdown.
Three plays later Green, as a receiver, became a factor.
Trailing 14-7 with less than 4 minutes left in regulation, quarterback Evan Carmichael hit Green with a perfect pass down the left sideline for a 37-yard gain. Green finished the day with two catches for 77 yards.
“He’s a pretty good receiver and clutch for sure,” Carmichael said of Green. “He’s a good kid to go to and he made the kick, so the game’s on him.”
Two plays later, with the ball on the Hotchkiss 26, Leonard took a pitch and rumbled 26 yards for his first touchdown of the game. Green’s kick tied the game at 14-all and ultimately forced the overtime session.
Aside from the fourth quarter the game was dominated by defense.
Both teams penetrated deep into the opposing territory, but neither could come away with much in the way of points.
Hotchkiss’ Todd Queen returned the opening kickoff to the Rams 10-yard line but the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
The Rams, likewise, drove to inside the 15, keyed by a circus catch for 40 yards by Green and a 19-yard run by Leonard, but a fumble by quarterback Dan Markoya ended that drive at the Hotchkiss 13.
Hotchkiss then embarked on an 18-play, 83-yard drive for the game’s first points. The drive was kept alive twice by Rams penalties on fourth down – a roughing the kicker and an offsides penalty.
Shaklee finished off the drive with a five yard strike to receiver James Zeldenthuis with 7:16 left in the half. The extra point kick was blocked and Hotchkiss led 6-0.
It didn’t take Roaring Fork long to get back into the contest. Carmichael entered the game at quarterback and, on his second play, took an option keeper untouched down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown and a 7-6 lead with 6:15 left in the half.
It was the last significant drive the Rams would mount until late in the fourth quarter. Roaring Fork only had one drive of more than five plays until the game-tying drive.
“They stymied us offensively,” Jensen said. “It was the first time this season our guys have been dominated on the line of scrimmage. Our defense kept us in the game.”
The Hotchkiss offense controlled possession of the ball for much of the game due to the hard running of Queen, who posted a game-high 116 yards rushing on 32 carries. The Bulldogs, however, turned the ball over four times on fumbles.
Carmichael finished the contest with 84 yards rushing and was 7-for-13 for 95 yards passing. Shaklee was 3-for-7 for 23 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 47 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Roaring Fork plays host to Basalt Friday.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.