Basalt sticks a fork in the Rams
Willy Klein and the Basalt football team would not be denied. For three quarters, the offense sputtered – the Longhorns recorded just six first downs in the first 36 minutes Friday against visiting rival Roaring Fork. Still, Basalt found itself in a tie game when it took over at its own 43-yard line with 3 minutes, 23 seconds remaining. The Longhorns picked an opportune time to manufacture their longest drive all game. It started with a mix of sweeps, runs up the gut and an end-around to Travis D’Anna for 11 yards and a first down at the 32. Then, they rode Klein into the end zone.The senior carried the ball five straight times, culminating in a bruising 5-yard run up the middle with 31 seconds remaining to put Basalt (2-6 overall, 2-4 3A Western Slope) up for good.On Thursday, Basalt coach Forrest Grosh challenged his players. Friday, they gave their coach a 20-14 victory – his first over the Rams in his five-year tenure.”[Thursday], I said it was a two-game season and asked them how they wanted to go out,” Grosh said. “I didn’t care about what happened before. This is the first one, and I want these guys to enjoy the experience.”While the Longhorns defense forced three Rams turnovers in the first half, their offense had trouble capitalizing on good field position. Basalt went three plays and out, then turned the ball over on downs twice in its first three possessions.The Rams (2-6, 2-4) scored first when tailback Nate Soucie caught a screen pass from Jake Kinney and rumbled 73 yards down the right sideline for the score, putting Roaring Fork ahead, 6-0, with 3:31 left before the half. After a Longhorns punt on the ensuing possession, the Rams took over at their own 30 and looked poised to strike again. Kinney found Soren Phibbs underneath for a 55-yard screen up the middle. Three plays later, Roaring Fork was staring at a fourth-and-1 at the Basalt 5. Rather than pound the ball with Soucie, Mike Brinson opted instead to try a trick play.The Rams handed Basalt a golden opportunity, and lineman Taylor Foreman-Niko ran with it. Literally. Roaring Fork lined up for the field goal, the holder took the snap and, without looking, tossed the ball over his head as the kicker ran a sweep to the right. It was a play reminiscent of one Louisiana State pulled off earlier this year against South Carolina. Only this time, Foreman-Niko wasn’t fooled like the Gamecocks.He jumped in front, picked off the pass and took off for an 83-yard run down the right sideline. Craig Riggins’ extra point with 15 seconds remainingin the half put the Longhorns on top, 7-6.”The guy went around the snapper, and I had no idea what he was doing,” Foreman-Niko said. “I bobbled the ball, then took it and ran as fast as I’ve ever ran in my life. I didn’t want to look back. Then I heard ‘… the 30, 20, 10.’ I think it was the announcer, but maybe it was just in my head.””I don’t know why he held onto the ball so long,” Brinson said. “I’ll take the blame. That stings. We shot ourselves in the foot and, on top of that, I think Basalt wanted it more.”Kinney put the Rams back on top as time expired in the third, when he capped a six-play, 71-yard drive with a 48-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Kinney rolled out to his left and found Cameron Ellis, who caught the pass and ducked a defender en route to the end zone. It looked as if Basalt’s luck had run out early in the fourth. On a third-and-6 on the ensuing drive, quarterback Corey Ostrander overthrew a wide open Willy Klein. On fourth down, Ostrander fired a perfect pass to Taylor Mills streaking down the right sideline; he let the ball slip through his hands. But the Longhorns defense, much like it had done all night, stiffened, forcing a three-and-out. Foreman-Niko rushed into the backfield unblocked on third-and-11, and dragged Kinney down for a 10-yard loss. On the ensuing punt, Roaring Fork botched the snap, the ball sailed over Kinney’s head, and Basalt recovered at the 10-yard line. The Longhorns connected on the equalizer three plays later when, on third down, Ostrander rolled out of the pocket, and found fullback Cody Kosinski for the 6-yard touchdown. “The defense played phenomenal all night,” Grosh said. “That fourth-down play didn’t pan out, but the guys regrouped and picked it up.”The Longhorns defense made its biggest stop of the game on the ensuing Roaring Fork drive, forcing a three and out to give their offense the ball with 3:23 remaining. Nine plays, 57 yards and nearly 3 minutes later, Basalt was celebrating in the end zone and on the home sideline.”I’m disappointed because we had such great intensity last week,” Brinson said of his team’s 50-10 win over Coal Ridge. “I thought for sure we’d repeat that. We just weren’t as fired up.””Beating Roaring Fork has been the experience of the season,” Foreman-Niko said. “We’ve been close the whole season, and were finally able to finish.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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