Basalt stumbles in opener against 1A Meeker | AspenTimes.com

Basalt stumbles in opener against 1A Meeker

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

BASALT ” Meeker quarterback Tyler Matrisciano was flushed out the pocket. He sprinted toward the left sideline, eyes scanning the field as the Longhorns defense closed in.

Matrisciano resisted the urge to dump the ball to an open tailback in the flat. Instead, as the buzzer sounded to end the second quarter Friday night at Basalt High School, he heaved a pass across field. Cowboys receiver Colton Brown, who had somehow snuck behind two of Basalt’s defensive backs, pulled in the ball in the back right corner of the end zone.

The Longhorns’ momentum was lost. So, too, were their chances of pulling out a victory in their regular-season opener.

Brown’s 24-yard catch pushed 1A Meeker’s lead to 26-6 after 16 minutes. The Cowboys all but sealed the game with a four-minute, 54-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter. They cruised to the 34-14 victory ” their fourth straight against 2A Basalt.

“Our coaches have told us that we can’t ride the highs and ride the lows,” Longhorns running back Dalton Jacobson said. “I think we did that. We had just scored a touchdown, and then we let them come right back. It wasn’t a good feeling going into the locker room.”

Meeker back Mitch Jacob shook free up the middle five minutes into the first quarter, scoring the first of his two touchdowns to give the Cowboys a 6-0 lead.

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Basalt answered right back with a 61-yard scoring drive of their own. First-year head coach Carl Frerich’s newly-installed veer offense proved effective as the Longhorns marched down the field in five plays. Quarterback Dillon Buck squared the game when, on a busted quarterback sneak up the middle, he bounced outside and broke away from the defense for a 35-yard scamper.

But Basalt would score just once in their final five possessions. Its first drive of the second half encompassed 20 plays and chewed up more than eight minutes on the clock. But the Longhorns stalled inside the red zone, failing to convert a fourth and goal from the 3.

Basalt turned the ball over three times ” two came inside Meeker’s 20.

The Cowboys had no such problems. They scored touchdowns on all four first-half possessions, racking up 242 yards of offense.

“Our defense has a lot of new kids in new positions,” said Frerichs, the former defensive coordinator who recently took over for friend Forrest Grosh. “Responsibility-wise, we struggled.”

Meeker’s Dakota Rowlett exposed the Longhorns defense with 3:29 to play in the second quarter, scampering unscathed into the end zone on a 10-yard option keeper to stretch the lead to 18-6. Rowlett entered the game during Meeker’s third drive after Matrisciano took a hard hit, and promptly helped the Cowboys cap off the 12-play, 83-yard drive.

Still, the Longhorns felt confident, said Jacobson, who finished with 136 yards on the ground. A Basalt miscue soon tempered that optimism.

Facing a fourth-and-2 from the Meeker 47, The Longhorns decided to go for it with less than one minute remaining in the half. Buck rolled out and fired a pass that drew receiver Taylor Mills out of bounds and fell incomplete.

Matrisciano completed consecutive passes to move the Cowboys to Basalt’s 24. He found Brown on the ensuing play; a two-point conversion stretched the lead to 20.

The next Meeker score ultimately did his team in, Frerichs said. But the coach was impressed with his team’s effort in a second half in which they tied the Cowboys, 8-8. Corey Ostrander connected with Mills on a fourth-and-goal from the 4 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“As a coach, you don’t really know what you have until after the first game,” Frerichs said. “We’re excited. We feel like we have a lot of work to do, but we should be just fine.”

The Longhorns travel to Vista Ridge on Friday.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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