Aspen hangs on against Grand Valley at home | AspenTimes.com

Aspen hangs on against Grand Valley at home

Chadwick Bowman
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Chadwick Bowman/The Aspen TimesAspen players huddle around assistant coach Kurt Ufkes during Friday's homecoming game at Aspen High School. The Skiers beat Grand Valley, 26-20.

ASPEN – To the angst of fans, the Aspen Skiers nearly watched their lead slip away in Friday’s homecoming football game against the Grand Valley Cardinals.

Leading, 19-0, at halftime and seemingly in control, Aspen gave up multiple big plays in the third and fourth quarters and had trouble stopping the Cardinals’ consistent rushing attack.

“I just felt like we got complacent,” said Skiers head coach Mike Sirko. “We were inconsistent offensively. Defensively, we started like a house on fire, but we just got complacent.”

Aspen running back Casey Hornburg was forced to carry the load with 28 touches for 149 yards. He punched in one score and broke a long run for 47 leading to the Skiers last, and ultimately, the game’s winning touchdown, propelling the home team to a 26-20 victory.

The Cardinals were able to sustain long drives against the Skiers by converting timely first downs and striking quick on a long trick play for a score – a halfback sweep which was reversed, and thrown downfield to Grand Valley senior Chris McGruder.

The Skiers’ offensive spark throughout the game was provided by senior Quinn Morehead, who also played most of the defensive downs at cornerback and returned punts and kickoffs.

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Morehead had seven of freshman quarterback Tucker Beirne’s 10 completions for 76 yards. Beirne also threw for two touchdowns.

In a last-ditch attempt, the Skiers forced the Cardinals into a fourth and long with only 21 seconds left. Grand Valley sophomore quarterback Tyler Scott misfired on the pass, allowing Skier players, fans and coaches to exhale.

Escaping with the win, many Aspen players were still frustrated with outcome.

“It’s all about finishing, and we didn’t finish that well,” said senior wide receiver Brendan Wagner. “You can’t blame it on anyone specifically, it’s a team deal.”

Hundreds of fans showed up to watch the game.

“It’s great, it’s awesome,” said athletic director Carol Sams. “It might be one of the largest crowds we’ve had here.”

Students are excited going into more weekend homecoming festivities, but coaches are already looking ahead.

“We just got to get better for next week if we’re going to win some more ball games down the road,” Sirko said. “We have a big one next week with Basalt, we have to get ourselves ready to play.”