Football: Aspen flags down Roaring Fork 34-24 |

Football: Aspen flags down Roaring Fork 34-24

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen High School football team survived a penalty-filled league opener at Roaring Fork on Friday night.

The Skiers, in a game delayed 30 minutes in the first half because of lightning, beat the Rams 34-24 to kick off the Western Slope North League season.

Nearly 40 penalties slowed the game that also was delayed for a second-half injury as well as homecoming halftime festivities in Carbondale.

The Skiers, behind the rushing of senior Ryan Fitzgerald, broke a 24-24 halftime tie in the Highway 82 rivalry game to take the victory.

Fitzgerald scored on the first play from scrimmage for the Skiers, bolting 79 yards for a touchdown.

He added a 40-yard run on Aspen’s second possession, which ended with a 44-yard field goal by John Heaphey, his longest of the season. Aspen led 10-0.

But Roaring Fork answered immediately with a touchdown drive, helped by 40 yards in Aspen penalties.

Jose Lopez scored from the 4-yard line for the Rams. A fake PAT kick produced a two-point conversion run by Aldo Pinella, and the Rams cut the early lead to 10-8 with 2:59 to play in the first quarter.

The Rams took a 16-10 lead when Pinella intercepted an Aspen pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. Roaring Fork converted its second consecutive two-point conversion.

A 1-yard Fitzgerald TD run tied the score at 16-16 — when lightning delayed the game for 30 minutes.

After the delay, plus time for the teams to warm up again, Heaphey put Aspen ahead 17-16 with the PAT kick.

But there were more fireworks ahead in a first half that would end 24-24.

Matt Gregory scored for Aspen on a 1-yard run; Heaphey added the PAT; Aspen led 24-16.

Roaring Fork pulled even on a Hail Mary pass from Tyler Spence on the last play of the first half. And another two-point conversion netted the halftime tie.

After the teams traded fumbles early in the third quarter, Aspen took the lead on a 53-yard touchdown run by Gregory. With Heaphey’s conversion, the Skiers led 31-24 with 3:29 to play in the third quarter.

They added to the lead early in the fourth quarter when Heaphey hit a 20-yard field goal after the Skiers recovered a Roaring Fork fumble.

The Aspen defense sealed the penalty-plagued victory with a big defensive stand with 4:00 to play.

Fitzgerald rushed for more than 220 yards, unofficially, adding to his conference-leading total.

RJ Peshek saw duty at quarterback for Aspen when Tyler Tick was forced out of the game in the second half.

Aspen, under first-year head coach Ryan Triece, improved to 1-0 in league play, 3-2 overall.

Roaring Fork moved to 2-4 overall, 0-1 in conference.

The Skiers will be back on the road next weekend for a game at Coal Ridge, west of New Castle.

Coal Ridge lost 30-6 at Basalt on Friday night.

The Skiers will return to Aspen School District Stadium for their next home game Oct. 10 against Battle Mountain. Aspen will host Moffat County the following weekend before closing the season Oct. 24 at Basalt.

In other area high school football scores from Friday night:

Glenwood Springs defeated Palisade 17-10,

Battle Mountain topped Moffat County 41-27,

Rifle won a showdown at Delta 36-19,

Hotchkiss stunned Cedaredge 27-13,

Paonia shut out Grand Valley 55-0,

Steamboat Springs beat Grand Junction Central 47-26,

Gunnison stopped Montezuma-Cortez 50-15,

Eagle Valley beat Summit 41-7.