Titans upended by Longhorns on Homecoming
The 2016 season hasn’t gone as planned for the Coal Ridge Titans football team, so Friday’s Homecoming game against the visiting Basalt Longhorns offered the Titans a chance to right the ship against a league opponent. Unfortunately, things got off to a rough start in New Castle as the Longhorns jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game before ultimately running away for a win on the road to spoil Coal Ridge’s Homecoming celebration.
Starting things off on Friday, the Longhorns received the opening kickoff and marched 81 yards in 12 plays before senior running back Alex Alberto plunged in from seven yards out to open the scoring for both teams just under five minutes into the game.
Down 7-0 early, the Titans were looking forward to their offense getting onto the field, but a fumble on the ensuing kickoff set up Basalt’s high-powered attack at the Coal Ridge 14-yard line. Four plays later Basalt senior quarterback Miles Levy scampered in from three yards out to put the Longhorns up 14-0 before most Titan fans settled into their seats on a cold, autumn night.
Getting the ball back for their first official offensive drive of the game, Coal Ridge promptly marched 53 yards in 15 plays before senior quarterback Jackson Sargent kept it up the middle for the Titans’ first score of the game to cut the Basalt lead to 14-7 at the 10:16 mark of the second quarter.
The Titans couldn’t catch a break on defense though as Basalt responded quickly as Levy found senior receiver Kyle Roberts from five yards out to make it 20-7 following a missed point after try. Basalt’s 67-yard drive was highlighted by a 20-yard rush from Roberts and a 28-yard connection between Levy and senior Raul Torres down the far sideline set the Longhorns up in the red zone.
Trailing by 13 midway through the second quarter, Coal Ridge started the ensuing drive in style as Sargent found senior receiver Raul Ramirez on a slant route for 15 yards, but on the very next play a high snap sailed over Sargent’s head where it was quickly recovered by Torres and the Longhorns, giving them great field position once again.
Two plays later sophomore fullback Colin Hipona crossed the goal line from 1-yard out to extend the Basalt lead to 27-7 with just over five minutes left in the first half.
That’s when things got interesting.
Looking to get back into the game quickly, Sargent found Ramirez streaking behind the Basalt secondary for an 80-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage following Basalt’s fourth touchdown, cutting the deficit to 27-14. Then Basalt answered as Levy found junior Griffen Jenkins from 37 yards out to make it 35-14 Longhorns with just over three minutes left in the entertaining first half.
Coal Ridge then proceeded to go three-and-out on its next possession, but a high, booming punt from junior Jacx Power glanced off of Alberto’s outstretched arm, allowing the Titans to recover the muffed punt at the Longhorn 11-yard line.
The drive ultimately stalled though as a run by Power and two incompletions from Sargent set up a 29-yard field goal from junior Oscar Salazar that he banged through the middle of the uprights to make it 35-17 at the half.
“I was proud of the way we battled,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Trorie Rickert said. “I thought we played well offensively, but we had too many mistakes and couldn’t control the line of scrimmage again. If we don’t have the fumble and bad mistakes in the first half, it’s a 3- or 5-point game one way or the other at the half. But Basalt has good players and are coached well.”
Following the long halftime ceremony for the Homecoming court, the two teams came back out onto the field looking to pick up where they left off, but the two teams would trade three-and-outs before Levy would plunge in from 1-yard out at the end of the third quarter to make it 42-17 Longhorns.
With the game seemingly in doubt, the Titans wouldn’t quit fighting and moved the ball down the field as Sargent found the end zone again on the ground to narrow the deficit once again. Unfortunately the Longhorns would find the end zone one more time and cap off their third league win with a 49-24 victory on the road in New Castle.
Sargent finished 11-for-20 passing for 173 yards and one touchdown while adding two scores on the ground. Ramirez added 109 receiving yards, while junior Couy Harrington and senior Eddy Baez chipped in with seven tackles each defensively.
The Coal Ridge loss drops the Titans to 1-6 (1-2 2A Western Slope League) on the season, while the Longhorns improve to 5-2 (3-0 2A WSL). The Titans will host Roaring Fork next Friday in another pivotal 2A WSL game, while the Longhorns will host Moffat County next Friday.
“I think we need to be more physical in practice this week,” Rickert said. “We haven’t been able to do that because of depth [issues], but we have to work on the basic fundamentals again.”
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The Longhorns track and field prowess was most evident with their runners, winning multiple events and showing they are to be a factor for podiums, if not state championships, later this month at the state meet in Lakewood.