Roaring Fork comes up short in quarterfinals |

Roaring Fork comes up short in quarterfinals

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Roaring Fork quarterback Kade Gianinetti (1) gets mobbed by Faith Christian defenders as he runs the ball during the second round of the Class 2A playoffs Saturday. The Rams lost, 20-12.

CARBONDALE – Little things usually are the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs. Such was the case in Roaring Fork’s 20-12 loss to Faith Christian in Saturday’s Class 2A football quarterfinals.A twist here and a turn there and the Rams would be moving on to a spot in next week’s semifinals.Instead, the Eagles converted two fortunate bounces into a pair of touchdowns to take control of the game in the second quarter.The Rams dominated the first quarter and set up their second scoring drive on a 44-yard flea-flicker pass from Kade Gianinetti to Parker Nieslanik.Bowman took the handoff, stopped, pitched the ball back to Gianinetti who hit Nieslanik downfield.Gianinetti later found Nieslanik wide open in the corner of the end zone for a 2-yard pass for the score. The 10-play, 72-yard drive gave the Rams a 12-0 lead.The Rams defense limited Faith Christian to just two first downs in the first quarter, but the game’s momentum was quickly snatched away from the Rams when the ball bounced the Eagles’ way.Faith Christian’s Mike Cardenas grabbed a tipped pass from Gianinetti, broke a tackle and returned the interception 62 yards for the TD.Later in the period, the Eagles pounced on another Rams’ miscue when Christian Tena couldn’t handle a bad snap that bounced in front of him when the Rams were trying to punt.

The Eagles took over at the 13-yard line, and Dustin Albright rushed in from 10 yards out a few plays later.Not only was the momentum gone for the Rams, so was the lead. What had been a comfortable 12-0 Rams lead quickly switched to a 14-12 lead for the Eagles, thanks mostly to a pair of big plays.”We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, and that made the difference,” said Roaring Fork head coach Matt Hauptly. “Taking nothing away from Faith Christian, but we beat ourselves. If we played that football game 10 times we’d have won nine.”But, as Hauptly mentioned, Saturday was the odd day. And due to the miscues the Rams became the odd man out of the 2005 playoff picture.”Faith Christian is a phenomenal team. They know how to win,” Hauptly said of the 11-0 Eagles. “You can’t make two mistakes against them – you have to play a perfect game of football. I feel like other than those two plays, we did.”The Rams were close to a perfect team throughout the first quarter. Senior Jake Bowman appeared to have returned the game’s opening kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown – only to step out of bounds at Faith Christian’s 17. That was no problem for the Rams. Five plays later Tena scored the game’s first touchdown with a 2-yard run. Tena said the game was a hard-hitting affair.”It was smash-mouth football,” Tena said. “We played like warriors but they made the plays when they had to and they won the game.”After taking the 12-0 lead, the Rams appeared to be rolling. Hauptly felt another score could have been the difference.”If we would have got one more score, that would have put them into a scramble, desperation mode,” he said.

Cardenas’ interception ruined the plan.”That interception they returned for a touchdown was a real momentum shifter,” Hauptly said. “It was more than them putting points on the board. It deprived us of our momentum.”Roaring Fork never got its offensive mojo back after halftime.After Jeremy Lewis’ 37-yard touchdown run raised Faith Christian’s lead to 20-12, the Rams failed to move any closer than the Eagles’ 38-yard line in any of its three second-half possessions.The Rams mounted one push when Bowman bolted left for 14 yards and a first down on a fourth-and-one from the Eagles’ 39.But the Eagles stuffed Tena on another fourth-and-one three plays later with 2:53 left in the third quarter.The Rams found themselves in trouble with the Eagles threatening to put the game out of reach late in the third, but Cody Jeffryes came up big when he fell on a fumble at the 23.Even with the disappointing loss, Hauptly and the Rams have a lot to feel good about, beyond going undefeated in the regular season and being among the top five 2A teams in Colorado from the preseason on.”What pleased me most about this team was the character they played throughout the season,” Hauptly said. “They took every opponent seriously.

“They took every practice seriously. They may not have won the state championship, but the heart of these kids is unbelievable. The breaks just didn’t go their way.”Dale Shrull contributed to this story.Playoff Snapshot Key Stat: Faith Christian converted two turnovers into touchdowns. Unsung Hero: Running back Dustin Albright runs for a game-high 132 yards in 18 carries, and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run in the second quarter. Play of the Game: Trailing 12-0 in the second quarter, Eagles defensive back Mike Cardenas intercepts a Kade Gianinetti pass for a 62-yard touchdown. Play of the Game II: Roaring Fork’s Jake Bowman returns the opening kickoff 77 yards to the set up the Rams’ first score of the game. Deal was sealed when: Rams go 0-for-3 on offensive possessions in the second half.

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