Aspen football holds off Coal Ridge, likely secures 3A playoff spot in 20-13 win
Quarterback Nate Thomas and receiver Storm Silich connected three times for touchdowns to lead the Aspen High School football team past Coal Ridge on Friday night, 20-13, in the regular-season finale in New Castle.
The Skiers moved to 3-3 overall and likely secured their spot in the eight-team Class 3A playoff that starts next week. AHS entered the contest with the No. 8 RPI in the state and will have to hope that holds ahead of the bracket release, expected Sunday.
The Titans dropped to 3-3 overall and entered with the No. 9 RPI in the state. The loss doesn’t mean they won’t make the playoffs, but they are sitting on far thinner ice than the Skiers.
Coal Ridge had the early advantage on Friday after Thomas threw an interception that was returned about 57 yards for a touchdown by Jackson Wade not even two minutes into the contest.
The Titans took that 7-0 lead into the second quarter before Thomas and Silich connected for the first time, a 21-yard score midway through the period. The two also connected on the two-point conversion and the Skiers lead 8-7 at halftime.
That score held into the fourth quarter, when on the first play of the final period Thomas and Silich connected from 13 yards out, a failed conversion keeping it 14-7 in favor of Aspen.
The Titans answered when quarterback Karsen Dubois found Wade from 10 yards out to make it 14-13 with 6:22 remaining in the game. The extra-point try was low, keeping the Skiers on top by a point.
After a few traded possessions where neither offense could move the ball, Aspen’s defense stopped Coal Ridge on fourth down deep in Titan territory. This led to the third and final Thomas-Silich touchdown, this time from 5 yards out with only 56 seconds remaining.
The two-point conversion could have iced the game, but it was failed and the Aspen lead remained only one possession at 20-13.
Coal Ridge had a chance to rally late, getting the ball inside the Aspen 30-yard line before the AHS defense made another fourth-down stop with only 14 seconds to play that ended the game.
Also Friday, Glenwood Springs rolled to a 49-0 win over Salida to finish the regular season a perfect 6-0 and likely lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs.
Rifle did not play its final game against Steamboat Springs after the Sailors forfeit, while Basalt will play Montezuma-Cortez on Saturday night in Grand Junction to close out the regular season.
As it stood entering Friday’s games, Basalt was No. 4 and Rifle No. 5 in RPI with the top four teams getting to host first-round playoff games.
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