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Rams batter Pirates

G. Sean Kelly
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Monte Vista's Pablo Mascarenas, left, and Chester Hatton try unsuccessfully to keep Roaring Fork's Tyler Hunt, center, out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter during Saturday's Class 2A first-round playoff game. Hunt scored on the 19-yard reception from quarterback Aaron Markham. The Rams won, 36-31.
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CARBONDALE – Roaring Fork receiver Tyler Hunt has been waiting all season to score his first varsity football touchdown. In Saturday’s first-round playoff game against Monte Vista, he waited another 45 minutes, 45 seconds, then came a relative avalanche of touchdowns from the sophomore.Rams quarterback Aaron Markham hit Hunt for two touchdown passes in the final 2:15 of play – the scores bracketed a touchdown by Monte Vista – as Roaring Fork got by the Pirates 36-31 to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2A state .

So, was the wait worth it for Hunt?”Big time,” Hunt said. “I gave it all for this game. I was dead tired and don’t know how I got to those.”He had some help from the cool head and hot hand of senior quarterback Aaron Markham.Down 23-22 with 4:10 left in the game, Markham went 4-for-5 and running back Jake Bowman reversed field for a 30-yard gain on the drive. Hunt finished off the march when Markham hit him in the right flats at the 10. The sophomore spun and trotted into the end zone with 2:15 remaining.The efficiency of the drive left too much time for the Pirates, however.

It took just six plays and 1:06 for the Monte Vista to regain the lead, thanks to a 35-yard pass from Sigi Rodriguez to Clinton Medina and a 27-yard jump ball in the end zone that Jarrod Gibbons came down with. Roaring Fork was unshaken, despite the 31-28 deficit and less than a minute on the game clock.”It’s nice having a kid like Aaron (Markham),” Jensen said. “He maintains total calm. Aaron’s just got a great cool head. And the offensive line was fantastic. I can’t give enough (credit) to those guys.”After an incomplete pass, Markham hit running back Christian Tena over the middle for a 53-yard gain to the Monte Vista 19.

“We broke down in the secondary,” was all Monte Vista coach Jim McAuliffe could muster in describing the play.And the Rams broke Monte Vista two plays later. A quick screen to Bowman moved the ball to the 12 with 29 seconds left as Roaring Fork called its final timeout.The extra time in the huddle paid off. Markham dropped back and receiver Parker Nieslanik and Hunt both went on outs to the right. The Pirate defenders dropped back to defend a potential deep fade to Nieslanik and Markham hit Hunt underneath for the score. Nieslanik then pulled in his second two-point conversion reception of the game for the 36-31 lead with 21 seconds left in the game.”We made one (touchdown), then they made one and I was on the sidelines thinking, ‘Oh, no,'” Hunt said. “Christian made that play and it all came out good in the end.”Markham, one of three seniors on the roster, finished 17-for-27 with 380 yards and 4 touchdown passes. Hunt tallied a game-high 130 yards receiving, while Tena and Nieslanik each had a touchdown with 107 and 94 yards, respectively. Bowman turned in another solid rushing performance with 115 yards.

“The seniors have shown unbelievable leadership,” Jensen said. “They do the right things, they say the right things and lead by example. And the seniors are leading a group of kids who want to win.”Although the game turned into an offensive shootout late, it didn’t start out that way. Roaring Fork took a 7-0 lead on a 29-yard middle screen pass from Markham to Tena early in the second quarter. A short kick and a return to Rams’ 11 by Zach Scholl set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Rodriguez to Joe Kelso by to even the game at 7-all. Markham hooked up with Nieslanik for a 73-yard strike, and the same tandem converted the two-point play for a 15-7 lead at halftime, but Monte Vista answered with a 13 yard touchdown reception by Mitch Schaefer on the opening drive of the second half.After a Bowman touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Monte Vista took its first lead of the game, 23-22, with a Rodriguez 9-yard keeper and 2-point conversion with 4:16 left before the late fireworks began.Roaring Fork (8-2) travels to Brush (8-2) for the quarterfinals. Brush defeated St. Mary’s 21-14 Saturday. Monte Vista finishes the season at 8-2.Roaring Fork (8-2) travels to Brush (8-2) for the quarterfinals. Brush defeated St. Mary’s 21-14 Saturday. Monte Vista finishes the season at 8-2.


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