‘Horns hang tough with Olathe | AspenTimes.com

‘Horns hang tough with Olathe

Nate Peterson
An Olathe defender upends Basalt quarterback Tucker Hinchliffe on Friday night. The Longhorns lost at home, 34-7. (Jim Paussa/The Aspen Times)

Basalt gave the third-ranked 2A football team in the state a pretty good scare on Friday the 13th – for three quarters, at least.Against undefeated Olathe, Basalt (3-4, 3-1 2A Western Slope) took an early 7-0 lead, and nearly went up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter – if not for a dropped pass in the end zone – before the Pirates rallied to take a 12-7 lead. The game remained within five points up until three minutes to go in the third quarter before Olathe fullback David Rhodes capped an eight-play, 45-yard drive with a 17-yard dash into the end zone.”They didn’t know what they were walking into,” Basalt coach Forrest Grosh said. “I think we have a lot of talent on our team and a lot of heart and we came out and showed today that we believed that we could win. Unfortunately, a few things went the wrong way at the wrong times and didn’t go our way. But I think we played a hell of a ball game.” Basalt quarterback Tucker Hinchliffe gave up the ball at his own 45 after he was hit from behind, setting up Rhodes’ touchdown. It was the first of two fumbles Hinchliffe gave away, to go along with two interceptions. The senior’s first pick came with about nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter after junior wideout Andy Mayer slipped on his pass route and Olathe’s Curtis Noel went up for the ball. From there, Olathe marched 46 yards – all on the legs of Rhodes and Suarez – to take a 27-7 lead.

Basalt tailback Tony DiBacco also turned over the ball early in the first quarter on Basalt’s own 22, which led to a field goal from Olathe’s Jesus Suarez to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 7-3. “We definitely turned the ball over more than we want to, and that bit us in the shorts,” Grosh said.Olathe’s first touchdown – a 33-yard scamper up the middle by Rhodes midway through the second quarter – was the game’s first turning point. Up until then, Basalt had moved the ball successfully on offense, and repeatedly stuffed the Pirates’ option attack on defense.Basalt opened the game by forcing the Pirates to go three and out on their first drive, then driving 65 yards down the field in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. On second-and-goal from Olathe’s 2-yard line, DiBacco followed a lead block by fullback Willy Klein into the end zone.After Olathe’s field goal, Basalt went four plays and out and was forced to punt from its own 36. Olathe gave the ball right back two plays later when Luke Hunter was unable to bring in a lateral pass and a group of Longhorns pounced on the loose ball at the Pirates’ 19.

Five plays later, on fourth-and-7 from the 17, Hinchliffe pitched to Klein who rolled right and then threw a dart to senior wide receiver Chris Fitzgerald in the end zone. Fitzgerald was unable to haul in the pass, however, and Olathe took over on downs. From there, the Pirates went on an 11-play, 83-yard drive that was keyed by two early Basalt penalties that led to two consecutive first downs. All told, the Longhorns were penalized seven times for 55 yards. A botched punt snap on Basalt’s next drive sailed out of the back of the end zone to give Olathe a safety and a five-point lead heading into halftime. “The first half we showed up and played football and we hit them hard,” Klein said. “We came out in the second half with the fire blazing, but by the fourth quarter, we just didn’t finish. Our defense picked it up a bit, but we just need to finish our games.””I’m never surprised by Basalt,” added Olathe coach Ryan Corn. “They’re really well-coached and a fundamentally tough team. They tough play defense. That’s one thing, ever since I’ve been coaching: Basalt at home is just tough to beat.”DiBacco was the Longhorns’ leading rusher with 65 yards on 13 carries. Hinchliffe threw for 169 yards, going 11 of 24 with the two interceptions. Basalt senior wideout Rory Johnson finished with nine catches for 144 yards.

“We had some opportunities, especially in the first half when we thought we had an opportunity to go up with [another] touchdown,” Grosh said. “That’s one thing that slipped through our hands. But I’m proud of these guys and the way that they fought.”The Longhorns head down to Roaring Fork to butt heads with the rival Rams. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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