Halsch, Glenwood Springs run over Longhorns

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs correspondent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Drew Halsch gave football a try his freshman year and didn’t stick with it. His return to the gridiron as a senior couldn’t have gone any better.

Rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, Halsch helped Glenwood Springs to a 35-7 win over visiting Basalt in Friday’s season opener.

The senior running back isn’t quite sure why he gave up football in the first place.

“My sophomore and junior year, I don’t really know, exactly, the reason why. I just didn’t play,” he said. “I don’t know. It just wasn’t for me, I guess.”

What prompted his return?

“Wow. I don’t know,” he said. “I was planning to come out my junior year. It just never happened. I never fully committed. Then, over the winter, I started lifting and hitting the gym a lot, and then all spring and all summer. Then I just committed to coach. I told coach I’d be there every day, every time there’s a practice, every time there’s lifting, and that’s what I did.”

Halsch flashed promise from the outset on Friday, capping an 80-yard drive with a leaping TD with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in the opening frame.

Quarterback Luke Jacob legged out a sizable chunk of those 80 yards with a 34-yard run down to the 8-yard line two plays before Halsch’s plunge. Jacob shed a number of white-jerseyed Longhorns along the way.

J.D. Weeden converted the extra point to put the Demons ahead on just their second offensive possession of the night.

After racking up 99 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first quarter, the Demons had trouble moving the ball against a stingy Basalt run defense in the second. Glenwood managed just 11 yards, its six second-quarter points coming on a pair of Weeden field goals. The left-footed kicker nailed one from 32 yards out and another from 22 yards away to send Glenwood into the half with a 13-0 advantage.

Behind Halsch and the defense, the Demons came alive in the second half.

On the first play of the third quarter, Grant Fegan intercepted Basalt quarterback Scott Hoffman, giving Glenwood the ball on the opponent’s 34-yard line.

Stringing together a couple of big plays, the Demons found the end zone with 8:44 remaining in the third.

The highlight of the short drive – and perhaps the night – came when Halsch lost his helmet blocking and then hauled in a short screen pass on third-and-long. He then proceeded to rumble down the field, his head fully exposed, for 24 yards and a first down.

“I just caught the pass and went for a run,” Halsch said. “I did what I was supposed to do. I was going to keep fighting for my team.”

Chad Montover finished off the drive with a 9-yard TD run. Jacob fired a conversion pass to Austin Tribble to make it 21-0 in Glenwood’s favor.

With 4:04 to go in the third, Jacob dumped off a short pass to Tribble, who used his speed to squeeze into the left corner of the end zone. Weeden’s extra point made it 28-0.

Glenwood’s final TD of the night came midway through the fourth and was courtesy of Halsch, who punctuated an 80-yard drive with a 3-yard score. Halsch rushed for 73 of the 80 yards.

Basalt got its lone score moments later when Hoffman sailed a long pass to Sam Morrison up the left sideline for a 50-yard TD connection. Morrison had several steps on the Glenwood secondary as he caught the ball in stride.

While Halsch paced Glenwood’s ground game, Jacob finished with 81 yards in the air on 7-of-14 passing. Halsch led the Demons in receiving with 40 yards on a pair of receptions.

Fegan finished with two picks to lead the Glenwood defense, which held Basalt to just 6 yards on the ground.

“They beat us up inside pretty good,” Longhorns head coach Carl Frerichs said. “They were a lot more physical inside than we were.”

“Our defense was solid,” Glenwood head coach Rocky Whitworth said. “I was really happy with them. They played well. That’s what we’re hanging our hat on until the offense comes around.”

Hoffman completed 5 of 15 passes for 98 yards to lead Basalt. Morrison caught two of those passes for a team-high 80 yards.

Both teams struggled in the penalty department, with Glenwood racking up 95 yards on 10 infractions and the Longhorns losing 75 yards on seven flags.