Basalt pounds mistake-prone Rams | AspenTimes.com

Basalt pounds mistake-prone Rams

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesBasalt's Sean Chenoweth tackles a Rams player during Friday's game at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

CARBONDALE – Roaring Fork spoiled Basalt’s homecoming game last fall. Friday, the Longhorns returned the favor in convincing fashion.

Quick-strike Basalt scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and added two more scores in the second half – both on plays of 60 or more yards from Sam Morrison. The Longhorns’ defense was equally as impressive, forcing seven turnovers in a lopsided 31-0 rout of their downvalley rivals.

“You can’t turn the ball over that many times and beat the Sisters of the Poor,” Roaring Fork head coach Greg Holley said. “[Turnovers] have been a real problem for us all year.”

The miscues started soon after kick-off for the home team. The Rams turned the ball over on consecutive plays in the opening quarter; quarterback Jayson Denton was intercepted by Erick Enriquez, then, after the Rams recovered a fumble, running back Zach Browning coughed up the ball, handing it right back to Basalt.

The Longhorns, who took over at the Roaring Fork 5-yard line, scored on a short scamper from tailback Zach Mobilian to pull ahead, 7-0.

Later, after forcing the Rams into a three-and-out, Johnny Madrano bulled his way into the end zone from 8 yards out to cap a four-play, 61-yard Basalt drive and extend the lead to 14.

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Mobilian set up the score with a 47-yard run up the right sideline on the drive’s first play, but the junior injured his ankle in the process. He came off the field soon after and did not re-enter.

The Longhorns (3-2) struggled in his absence, punting three times and missing a 52-yard field goal in their final four drives of the opening half.

“We had [the distances] we wanted on third down, but we couldn’t complete those third-and-3’s and third-and-5’s,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “It’s tough when you’re starting tailback goes down in 2A football, and you have to start moving guys around.”

Mobilian’s injury provided Morrison with a few more opportunities to touch the ball. He responded with two game-changing plays in the second half.

On the first, five minutes into the third quarter, the senior wide receiver ran a 12-yard hitch, hauled in a pass from quarterback Scott Hoffman, eluded the corner and bolted 63 yards up the middle of the field for the score.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Morrison, lined up in the backfield for the first time in the game, took a pitch from Hoffman on an option and sprinted 65 yards for the score, extending the lead to 31.

“I caught the ball, turned around and saw the corner and took off for the middle,” Morrison said of his receiving score. “There were a lot of [defenders], but I somehow weaved through all them.

“This feels so good. You could tell in practice this was going to be a good week. … I think we got mad and fired up.”

Basalt sure played that way on defense. Roaring Fork’s plan to attack the edges with sweeps and the option was foiled by the Longhorns, who routinely flooded the opposing backfield. When Rams quarterbacks Clay Gross and Jayson Denton dropped back to pass, they were forced to scramble to avoid multiple defenders instead of keeping their eyes down field.

The result was four turnovers and three punts in eight first-half possessions; Roaring Fork’s final drive of the half, one that was hampered by penalties and negative plays, was cut short when time ran out.

Things got no better for the Rams in a second half in which they punted four times and turned the ball over on three occasions.

After one of his team’s drives stalled in the third quarter, Roaring Fork’s Jake Strack Loertscher dropped back to punt. He bobbled the snap, initially tried to run and then attempted a pass as he was being gang tackled; Hoffman picked off the floater and rumbled all the way to the Rams’ 5 before being tackled.

The Longhorns turned the good field position into three points on Bertillio Garcia’s 21-yard field goal.

“When you turn the ball over like that, that’s what the score’s going to be,” Holley said. “I don’t know [how to fix that] … maybe tell the kids to carry a ball around school.”

Added Frerichs: “Coach [Rob] Hurley and the defense really felt like they had them game-planned well. They stepped up and performed well tonight.”

Basalt will not have much time to savior this win. It hosts 2A’s top team, rival Aspen, on Friday.

“You have to respect them – they’ve pounded everyone in the league,” Frerichs said. “If a few things go our way … you never know.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com