Roaring Fork rallies for Class 2A football playoff berth
CEDAREDGE – Eight inches is a short distance – except on a football field.
That turned out to be the difference between Roaring Fork’s earning a Class 2A football state playoff berth or waiting for a computer to determine its playoff status as a possible wild card entry.
Misael Fernandez secured the playoff berth for the Rams (6-1 Western Slope Conference, 8-2 overall) when he stopped Cedaredge (5-2, 7-2) running back Kurt Kissner on fourth down on Roaring Fork’s 11-yard line with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter.
The defensive tackle’s stop turned the ball back to the Rams, who ran out the clock for a 20-19 victory, earning second place in the Western Slope Conference and the playoff berth that goes with it.
“We knew the play was coming and we defended it perfectly,” said Rams’ defensive back Dan Markoya of Fernandez’s game-saving tackle.
“Eighty yards is a long way to go in a high school game,” added Ram coach Tory Jensen of Cedaredge’s final drive, that started from its own 20 after James Leonard gave Roaring Fork the lead on a 1-yard run with 7:54 remaining.
“They didn’t do it. We stopped them. That was cool.”
While the defense was playing cool, the Ram offense was hot.
Earlier in the fourth quarter Markoya’s 20-yard reception from Evan Carmichael was the key play of the eight-play, 56-yard drive that ended with Leonard’s short run.
“I told (Carmichael) I had a 200-pound lineman on me, and he’d better send me the ball,” recalled Markoya of the pass. “He did, and I caught it. It was a perfect play.”
The timing was perfect for the Rams too.
On the series before, the Bruins – who entered the game tied in the WSC standings with Roaring Fork and is now in danger of missing the 2A playoffs – retook the lead from Roaring Fork when Tony Cerise barged into the end zone from the 6-yard line.
Up 19-14 after the touchdown, the Bruins failed to pull ahead by seven, when Cerise was hauled down short of the goal line on the two-point conversion.
“The defense played so well in the second half,” said Roaring Fork coach Tory Jensen. “We gave up a couple of scores in the first half, then we shut them down. That’s the sign of a good team.”
The Rams did look confused defending the Bruins’ single-wing attack earlier in the game.
The Bruins pulled out to a 13-0 lead on two Kurt Kissner first-quarter touchdowns.
As a running back, Kissner scored the game’s initial TD on a 3-yard run. He then returned an interception on a Carmichael pass from the Ram 11 for the other touchdown.
Roaring Fork pulled within six on the first of two Leonard 1-yard scores with 4:18 left in the first half. The Rams took the lead for the first time midway in the third quarter when Max Green culminated a 5-play, 54 yard scoring drive by running over from the Bruin 9-yard line.
According to the playoff schedule released by the Colorado High School Activities Association, Roaring Fork will play at the second-place team from the Intermountain Conference next Saturday.
The Rams’ playoff opponent was not available as of press time.
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