Football: Skiers pound Pirates on road | AspenTimes.com

Football: Skiers pound Pirates on road

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The Aspen football team was about to squander a golden opportunity.

With the final seconds of the first half ticking away and no timeouts remaining Friday in Olathe, the Skiers opted to run a pitch to running back Casey Hornburg; the senior was swarmed and tackled in bounds.

It looked as though the clock would run out.

Instead, quarterback Luke Rider and company sprinted to the line and snapped the ball with a few seconds remaining, then Rider fired a quick strike to Harry Ferguson, who was standing alone in the end zone.

The touchdown helped Aspen take a 24-6 halftime lead. It never looked back, rolling to a 38-14 victory to improve to 4-1 overall and snap a four-game skid against the Pirates.

“We work a lot on the two-minute offense during the week and were able to call two plays,” Skiers head coach Mike Sirko said. “Somehow, we were able to get the snap off in time. That had to be the play of the game.”

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Hornburg provided scores of highlights on this night. The senior shredded the Olathe defense for 264 yards on 27 carries. He found the end zone twice, including a lengthy run early in the third quarter that all but put this game out of reach.

“It was like an 80-yarder. He hit the seam and got some great blocking by our offensive line,” Sirko said. “Casey looked like the Aspen tailback that we’re used to. He played the way we expect him to, which is great because we had to get the offense going this week. I’m really proud of him, our line, our defense.”

The Skiers defense forced five turnovers and held the winless Pirates at bay all night.

The unit came up with a big stop early in the first quarter. After giving the Pirates life with a roughing-the-kicker penalty, Aspen forced a fumble inside its own 5-yard line.

“It was beginning to look like it was going to be a dog-eat-dog game right there,” Sirko said. “I’m proud of how they responded.

“(Olathe is) struggling right now, but they’ve still got some kids who can come and smack you. … You watch college football every week and you see how many upsets? We were hoping to come ready to play, and we did.”

Hornburg and fullback Dan Schwartz went on to score touchdowns to help the visitors amass a 14-0 cushion. Erik Wehse tacked on a first-half field goal for Aspen, which got back on track after last week’s loss to Bayfield.

The Skiers will host winless Gunnison at 7 p.m. in Friday’s homecoming game.

“I’m happy for the seniors. Olathe has always had their way with us,” Sirko said. “It’s been a tough road, but we’re looking forward to coming home.”

Basalt has spent more than a day on the bus during lengthy road trips the past two weeks. While it’s been a trying stretch, the Longhorns have two wins to show for it.

One week after pulling out a tight win over Pagosa Springs, the Longhorns offense hit its stride in Gunnison. Basalt overcame an early deficit and, on the strength of strong running and a combined four scores from Cody Banc and Austin Snyder, topped the Cowboys, 27-17.

The Longhorns now are 3-2 overall and 2-1 in 2A Western Slope play.

“We finally established the offense tonight,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “Austin had a huge game on the ground. I’m sure it was well over 100 (yards).”

After a 30-yard Gunnison touchdown run on the game’s first possession, Basalt produced a quick answer. Banc scored to square the game, finishing off a lengthy drive that included a third-and-10 pass from Matt Williams to Josh Andrade to keep the chains moving.

Snyder pushed the lead to seven with a second-quarter score.

The Cowboys trimmed their deficit to four with a last-second field goal before the break, but they could get no closer.

Snyder scored on the first possession of the third, and then Jarrett Miller recovered a fumble at the Gunnison 20. Banc found the end zone soon after to extend the lead to 17 for the Longhorns, who take on Olathe for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday.

“It’s like I keep telling the kids every game: If we take it one day at a time and keep getting better, this league is wide open,” Frerichs said. “We got a lot better tonight than in Pagosa.”

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