Longhorns outlast Cards in home opener | AspenTimes.com

Longhorns outlast Cards in home opener

Jon Maletz
Basalt senior running back Ben Pollock (2) breaks open for a gain of 20 yards and a first down during the first quarter against Grand Valley Friday night. Pollock scored two touchdowns in the first half. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

Finally, head coach Forrest Grosh and his Basalt Longhorn football team could take a much-needed deep breath.Staring at the prospect of losing an early lead for the second straight week, Basalt recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter, scored the go-ahead touchdown, then withstood one final scoring push from Grand Valley as The Longhorns defeated the Cardinals, 21-18.”This was a tough one, another close one late in the fourth,” Grosh said. “This was definitely a gut check for our guys. We stuck with it and got that fumble and drove it home.”

After jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the legs of senior tailback Ben Pollack, The Longhorns’ offense sputtered as the Cardinals reeled off 18 unanswered in the second and third quarters. Early in the second, Grand Valley put together a seven play, 61-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown run on fourth down, cutting the Longhorn lead to eight. The Cardinals pulled to within two at halftime after senior wide receiver Daniel Chaffin came down with a tipped five yard pass from quarterback Richard Gallegos. Grand Valley pulled ahead on its first possession of the third quarter when Bush slipped behind the defense, hauling in a 24-yard pass from Gallegos to take the 18-14 lead with 4:18 to play in the third. Thanks to strong field possession, the Cardinals had to drive only 51 yards for the score.The Longhorns’ offense, which looked crisp in the first quarter, sputtered in the second half. Their first four possessions resulted in two punts and two interceptions. It looked as though a Grand Valley miscue would be the Longhorns’ only chance to bounce back.

They got their chance late in the fourth. Following a Basalt offsides penalty that gave the Cardinals a second and short at their own 43, the Longhorns’ defense finally capitalized. They knocked the ball loose and junior Rory Johnson fell on the ball at the 40. Pollack, who had single-handedly kept the Longhorns in the game in the first with touchdown rushes of 33 and 20 yards and even kicked the two extra points, reeled off another big run. The hard-nosed running back, who returned to football for his senior year after two seasons on the Basalt soccer team, took a pitch and scampered 26 yards down the left sideline, giving the Longhorns a first down at the Cardinal 14 yard line. A quarterback sneak by junior Tucker Hinchcliffe put the Longhorns ahead for good at 21-18.”I just love being out there with these guys and I knew we’d have a chance to win this game late,” Pollack said. “We had a bit of a let down, but kept playing hard.

Pollack, who was injured when a Grand Valley defender collided with his leg during the extra point attempt that gave the Longhorns a three-point lead, was cleared by the doctors to return to play defensive back as the Cardinals made one final drive with time ticking off the clock. Grand Valley drove the ball 62 yards in the games final 2:21, but fell short when a Gallegos pass attempt from the Longhorn 3-yard line fell incomplete as time expired.”These guys believed in themselves and had the desire to pull this out,” Grosh said. “I think this will give us huge momentum when we open league play next week.” Jon Maletz can be reached at jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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