‘Horns have no direction vs. Cards | AspenTimes.com

‘Horns have no direction vs. Cards

Jon Maletz

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

The effort was there, but the execution wasn’t.That became clear early in Basalt’s football game with Grand Valley on Friday. The Longhorns turned the ball over five times in the first half – on two interceptions from quarterback Dillon Buck, a lost fumble and two turnovers on downs, which both resulted in Cardinals touchdowns. Basalt’s stagnant offense (its lone score came on an interception return) could do little to keep pace with the Cardinals, who used multiple backs to wear down the Longhorns and cruise to the 26-6 victory.”We had five turnovers, but we still were only down 14-0 [at the half],” Basalt coach Forrest Grosh said. “It was still attainable. Our offense can’t afford to throw that many interceptions and cough up all those balls.”The Longhorns (0-2 overall), who have scored just one offensive touchdown this season, turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the game. Grand Valley picked off Buck’s first pass attempt less than two minutes into the first quarter. With 7 minutes to play in the first, the Longhorns fumbled the exchange on a fourth-and-2. Grand Valley responded with an eight-play, 50-yard drive capped by running back Jon Lantz’s 6-yard scamper into the corner of the end zone.

Basalt’s promising 12-play drive early in the second quarter resulted in another failed fourth-down conversion; the Longhorns were whistled for a false start on a fourth-and-1 and their ensuing screen pass gained no yards. Cardinals back Colton Cowan followed Lentz’s lead, powering in from 4 yards out for the score. The run capped an 11-play drive that ate up 63 yards and nearly four minutes. It looked as if the Longhorns had made the defensive stop they desperately needed when Grand Valley quarterback Matt Cain’s third-down pass on the opening drive of the second half sailed long. The Basalt secondary was whistled for pass interference, however. Four plays later, Cowan broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run down the right side on a counter, stretching the lead to 20. “They wore us down a little,” Basalt linebacker Willy Klein said. “We need to work on staying home on that counter.”The lead seemed daunting considering the Longhorns recorded just three first downs in the first half. The lack of production through the air didn’t help either. Basalt leaned heavily on the run during its first drive of the second half – it ran one pass play, on a third and long, during the six-play drive before punting. “We wanted to attack them with the running game and smash it down their throat,” Grosh said. “Our offense just couldn’t move the ball.”

Klein gave Longhorns fans reason for hope with 4 minutes to play in the third when he picked off a pass inside the 10-yard line and returned it for a score. Teammate Travis D’Anna picked off a pass on Grand Valley’s ensuing possession, but Basalt went three and out. The Longhorns defense came through once more, recovering a fumble inside the 10-yard line with 10 minutes to play. Basalt’s next offensive possession netted minus 4 yards and resulted in another three and out.”We’ve got to finish those drives,” Klein said. “We need to find a way to get the ball moving. It’s really frustrating.”Cowan sealed the game with six minutes to play on a 15-yard run right up the gut of the Longhorns defense. Basalt’s last possession aptly ended with a third interception.

“I don’t have an answer why we lost the ball so many times,” Grosh said. There’s really no excuse. If we decide we want to play football, we can still reach our goals. We have to work a lot harder.”Western Slope conference play for the Longhorns begins at 7 p.m. Friday in Aspen.”We’re still optimistic, and it would be nice to have a win,” Klein said. “We have to prove to ourselves we can finish a football game.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com