Football: Mobilian and Longhorns roll against Gunnison | AspenTimes.com

Football: Mobilian and Longhorns roll against Gunnison

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Time
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesLonghorns running back Aiejandro Talavera slips past Gunnison defender Steven

BASALT – Basalt tailback Zach Mobilian torched the Gunnison defense Friday night, finding the end zone four times. The senior’s most significant contribution may have come on defense, however.

With his team clinging to a seven-point lead and the Cowboys facing a fourth-and-goal at the Basalt 3-yard line early in the third quarter, Mobilian chased down Gunnison tailback Jesse Duft on the far sideline, dropping him well short of the sticks.

Mobilian capped a seven-play, 94-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring scamper minutes later, and the Longhorns never looked back. They cruised to a 27-7 victory, snapping a two-game skid.

“That play was huge,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “It changed everything. … Zach is a great kid and a great player.”

The Longhorns leaned heavily on their star on a brisk evening at Basalt High School. After the Cowboys turned the ball over on downs on the game’s opening possession, Mobilian and the offense methodically marched down the field, chewing up 69 yards in about five minutes. They finished things off through the air; quarterback Drew Bair fired a quick strike to Mobilian, who faked to the inside, sprinted outside and beat two defenders to the pylon.

With 6 minutes remaining in the opening half, Mobilian sprinted untouched for a

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9-yard touchdown, giving Basalt a 14-7 halftime lead. The score was set up by a 58-yard misdirection pitch play to J.R. Krueger.

“Against Aspen, I felt like we played well but ran out of energy. … Last week [against Grand Valley] pretty much felt like a hangover – we were outplayed and outcoached,” Frerichs said. “We finally played how we’ve expected to play.”

While their offense was efficient, the Longhorns’ defense was anything but in the opening half. The Cowboys (4-4 overall, 1-4 2A Western Slope) repeatedly piled up yards with an option attack that averaged more than 30 points in their previous seven games.

Three of Gunnison’s four first-half drives stretched into Longhorns territory – two resulted in turnovers on downs and the other was cut short by halftime.

Gunnison’s second drive covered 80 yards in 15 plays. Duft scored from 11 yards out on a perfect option pitch from quarterback Connor Clark about four minutes into the second quarter, momentarily squaring the game at seven.

“They were spreading us out and picking on our one linebacker,” Frerichs said. “We switched to a 4-4 with two linebackers, and that’s what we ran in the second half.”

It did not appear to work early in the third quarter, as Clark quickly guided his team deep into Basalt territory once more. The Cowboys stalled inside the Longhorns’ 10, however.

Basalt stuffed Duft for a two-yard loss, forced an incomplete pass, then held Clark to 3 yards on a quarterback keeper, forcing fourth down from the 3.

Mobilian kept Gunnison from finding the end zone. Then, he helped the Longhorns climb back to .500 at 4-4.

He put this game out of reach with a 6-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes remaining in the fourth, stretching the lead to 27-7. He finished with 106 rushing yards on 17 carries and caught three passes for 79 yards.

Basalt visits Coal Ridge at 7 p.m. Friday.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com