Basalt D makes the grade in loss |

Basalt D makes the grade in loss

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

BASALT To turn around its season, Basalts football team is going to have to stop turning over the football. The Longhorns surrendered the ball five times to an explosive Gunnison team Friday night, mistakes that buried the Longhorns in a 35-0 homecoming loss. Basalt dropped to 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in the 2A Western Slope. Gunnison, which kept its offensive starters in the whole game and was still throwing with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in league. We cant give up, said Basalt coach Forrest Grosh. We cant start bickering at each other when things go bad. Things just get worse that way when those things start happening. We need to make sure we play the entire 48 minutes of football. Basalts bumbling, at times baffling, offensive effort wiped out an inspired performance by the defense in the first half. The Longhorns stuffed the Cowboys offense on its first four possessions, including stopping Gunnison four straight plays after a first down on Basalts 7-yard line. Basalt couldnt capitalize, however, when it got the ball, and Gunnison pounced when the home team made its first big mistake at the start of the second quarter. After a Gunnison punt backed up the Longhorns to their own 20, senior fullback Willy Klein fumbled away an exchange from sophomore quarterback Corey Ostrander on first down. Five plays later, Cowboys senior fullback Kip Heffner plowed through a stack of Longhorns into the end zone from three yards out. Ryan Roper missed the extra point attempt. Basalt had to punt on its next possession but caught a break when junior Dalton Jacobson smacked Heffner right after he caught the punt, jarring loose a fumble that Basalt recovered. Ostrander gave the ball right back when Gunnison cornerback Mike Ochs stepped in front of his pass near the sideline. Basalts defense held again, forcing a turnover of its own when senior defensive back Andy Mayer unloaded on Cowboys tight end Conner Coleman, and the pass for Coleman flew up into the air and right into Mayers hands. Again, Basalts offense couldnt generate any momentum, gaining only one first down before Gunnison stripped Basalt senior running back Matt Schoeller of the ball at Gunnisons 38-yard line and recovered. Four plays later, Cameron Nicholl hit senior wideout Zack Coffey on a fade into the left corner of the end zone behind two Basalt players for the first of Coffeys three touchdown catches. Coleman caught a two-point conversion to put the Cowboys up, 14-0, at the half.

Offensively, until the second half of the second quarter, we didnt get much done, Gunnison coach Dennis Fraser said. Ive got to hand it to Basalt. They came out ready to play and were excited about their homecoming game, and they brought it to us that first half. I thought we were doing all right defensively, but offensively we just couldnt establish ourselves. Basalts frustration only grew in the second half, and with it, Gunnisons lead. Things started out better on offense as the Longhorns drove 61 yards in seven plays all the way down to the Cowboys 21 yard line. Gunnison clamped down, stuffing one run and forcing three incompletions to get the ball back offense at the 18. That was the closest Basalt got to the end zone the rest of the night. Coffey scored on the exact same fade route with 2:06 left in the third, then tight end Michael Pitre scored on a wild 66-yard catch-and-run with 19 seconds left in the quarter. Nicholl lost the shotgun snap to start the play and looked hemmed in for a sack before launching the ball downfield, where Pitre outjumped two Basalt defenders, then went untouched to the end zone. We finally got to move the ball and do some positive things, but weve got to just finish, Grosh said. I think that was an opportunity there in the game where we could have scored, made it 14-7 and got some momentum back, and unfortunately we could not do so. Coffeys final score came on a five-yard slant on a fourth-and-5 with less than two minutes remaining. Fraser defended the decision to keep his starters in, explaining that he was trying to get his offense as many repetitions as possible. Were still trying to find out what works for us, he said. We feel like we have the ability to be a championship team, but were still struggling to find out what were really about offensively. Its an opportunity to practice is all it was. I thought Basalt was still playing us tough. Grosh offered up a no comment on the matter, instead opting to talk about his team. Im not going to give up, and these kids arent going to give up, he said. Weve got three out of the next five of our games at home and were just going to come out and keep fighting. I cant expect anything less from these guys. Some of these guys, its their senior year, and theyre not going to go down easy. Were going to come together, added Klein, who had a stellar night on defense with 10 tackles and two sacks. Were a team, and some of these guys just got frustrated because this is the fourth game in a row weve lost. We just need to get something going. We need a spark. Basalt visits Coal Ridge next Friday. Nate Petersons e-mail address is


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