The Basalt High School football team overcame a Rifle rally to hold on for a 29-28 overtime win over the Bears on the BHS field, keeping its playoff hopes alive and well with a week to go.
“Credit to them. They got a lot of their offense going in the fourth quarter and we had a really hard time and were on our heels,” Basalt coach Carl Frerichs said after Friday’s game. “Really, really proud of Basalt football and I really feel like we are in a good place.”
Rifle, the defending spring state champion in the one-off 3A pandemic season, trailed 21-7 after three quarters but managed to force the extra session. In the alternating possession OT period, Rifle had first go and scored on a 7-yard TD pass from quarterback Trey Caldwell to Gavin Peterson to take a 28-21 lead.
A pass interference call on the Rifle defense on the first play of Basalt’s possession led to an easy TD run by Basalt’s Cooper Crawford to make it 28-27. After a couple of timeouts, BHS coach Carl Frerichs elected to try for the 2-point conversion and Crawford again ran it in to give the Longhorns the win.
“We just felt like defensively we were hanging on and we are on the 3-yard line and we got some big running backs and an offensive line that was playing pretty well,” Frerichs said of the decision to go for the 2-point conversion in overtime, “so we just felt like percentages, that was our best opportunity to pull off the win. Cooper ran extremely hard and actually broke a tackle before he got in the end zone.”
Basalt had a chance to win the game in regulation, but a 28-yard field goal attempt by Carlos Palomares was blocked with 14 seconds to play and to overtime the teams went.
The Longhorns controlled most of the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, BHS would take a 7-0 lead into the halftime break after Crawford scored on a 4-yard run set up by a Rifle fumble when trying to field a punt.
Basalt’s lead grew to 14-0 early in the third quarter, a 44-yard TD run by Sam Sherry on a reverse extending the advantage.
Rifle got back into the game later in the third quarter when Caldwell broke free for a 77-yard TD run, but Basalt answered just minutes later with another long Sherry scoring run, this time from 58 yards.
Down 21-7, the Bears had all the answers in the fourth quarter. Toto Fletchall scored on a short run to make it 21-14 with just over 10 minutes to play, and it was Caldwell who tied the game on another short TD run with four and a half minutes to go.
This led to Basalt’s blocked field goal attempt in the final seconds and then the dramatic overtime period.
Photos: Basalt football vs. Rifle
“They started to figure out some things that worked and we started to get on our heels a little bit,” Frerichs said. “We knew they were going to be a physical team because we really felt like all season they played well on the defensive side of the ball, so we knew offensively we were going to have our work cut out for us. Defensively we thought we played really, really well for three quarters and then once that quarterback started to get a little loose we had some problems with him for sure.”
The loss dropped Rifle to 3-5 overall and 1-3 in Class 2A Western Slope League play and likely eliminated the Bears from any chance at the postseason, as slim as it was entering Friday’s game. They play Delta next week in the regular-season finale.
Basalt, ranked No. 10 in 2A this week, bounced back from a 42-14 loss to Delta last week to improve to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in league play. The win should have the Longhorns feeling good about making the 16-team playoff field with only a home game with Aspen remaining on the schedule next week.
“We knew going in, even if we were to win or lose, it’s more we are playing for playoff seeding,” Frerichs said. “All you want is to be in the playoff bracket, but then your seeding does make a difference. We have an outside shot at even a home playoff game. That’s exciting for our kids.”
The Skiers hosted winless Coal Ridge on Friday, rolling to a 48-7 victory on the AHS turf. Aspen improved to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in WSL play, its other league win having come 34-19 over Rifle on Oct. 1. While certainly not eliminated from playoff contention, AHS faces an uphill climb and almost certainly would have to upset Basalt next week to get in.
In the league’s biggest game on Friday, No. 5 Delta held on for a 17-14 home win over No. 4 Moffat County to essentially lock up the league championship. The Panthers are now 7-1 and 4-0 in the WSL, while Moffat lost for the first time, falling to 7-1 and 3-1 in league play.