High-powered Aspen buries Basalt
ASPEN – After a deflating 21-13 loss in Hotchkiss last week, Aspen head football coach Mike Sirko said the Skiers had to prove they could still play this game.Aspen tore through the homecoming banner, then the Basalt defense Friday night as Anderson Cole and the first-team offense delivered a first-rate performance. Cole threw for 188 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and workhorse tailback Nicky Ufkes scored twice on the ground. The Skiers scored on six of their first seven possessions, and their defense prolonged the Longhorns’ early-season offensive struggles in a 49-7 Homecoming rout.”We really came in thinking we had a good shot – I still don’t think Aspen is 42 points better,” Basalt head coach Carl Frerichs said. “They jumped on us right away, and we fell apart.”It took the Skiers (3-1 overall, 1-0 2A Western Slope) little more than four minutes to generate points. After forcing a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, Aspen mounted a six-play drive that chewed up 67 yards. Ufkes capped things off with a 29-yard scamper through the middle, shedding tacklers on his way to the end zone. In the final minute of the first quarter, the junior, who picked up 141 yards on the ground on 20 carries – the bulk of them in the first half – scored from 5 yards out to stretch the lead to 14.Cole, who was picked off three times and completed just 44 percent of his passes against the Bulldogs, shook off that lackluster performance. The senior helped orchestrate an eight-play drive early in the second quarter with a quarterback keeper and a well-thrown screen pass, then hit receiver Walker Moriarty in stride on a 10-yard slant for a touchdown. On the ensuing Skiers possession, he lofted a 32-yard pass up the right sideline to receiver Andrew Papenfus, then hit Moriarty on another slant to move the ball to the Basalt 3. Daniel Ryerson punched the ball in from there, and the lead ballooned to 28.”We weren’t really together as a team and weren’t functioning well [on both sides of the ball] last week,” Cole said. “Tonight, we pulled together. … This is definitely the best this offense has played.”The best was yet to come. Two plays after Basalt (2-2, 0-1) tried and failed to pull off an onside kick to open the third quarter, Cole hit Moriarty with a bullet up the right side. Moriarty made one defender miss, cut to the middle of the field and outran the Longhorns’ secondary on a 62-yard score. Moriarty hauled in eight catches for 117 yards.Later in the third, Cole pulled off a 1-yard scoring sneak on fourth down to stretch the lead to 42 before handing the reigns to the junior varsity for the final 18 minutes.”Last week, we had some injuries and we weren’t sharp,” Sirko said. “All week, we worked on making sure we did everything right and focusing on the moment. We had success on both ends.” Basalt had little success to speak off. While their defense surrendered more than 350 yards to Aspen’s first team, the Longhorns’ offense could muster little. They went three-and-out on four of their first five possessions, and their lone first down in the game’s first 32-plus minutes came on a pass interference call. Four of their first-half possessions gained 2 or fewer yards.”We couldn’t consistently keep the ball. … Just all around, we didn’t play well,” said Frerichs, whose team has scored 21 points in its first four games. “We’re just going to have to continue to practice and get better.”Basalt showed some signs of life early in the fourth, when quarterback Corey Ostrander connected with Sam Morrison for a 16-yard score. The Aspen defense responded, however, forcing a fumble after a completion on the next Longhorns possession; Skiers senior Andrew Papenfus scooped up the loose ball, sprinted through the Basalt defense and leapt over one would-be tackler on a nearly 45-yard touchdown run.”I felt like the kids on defense really got things going,” Sirko said. “That really helped our offense. … I give a lot of credit to Basalt. They’re doing a good job. They just caught us on one of our good nights.”email@example.com
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