Longhorns stampede Skiers, 27-8
Basalt middle linebacker Willy Klein made sure to welcome rival Aspen to the Longhorns’ new field Friday night.On the third play from scrimmage, Klein sniffed out a draw play and unloaded on Aspen tailback Whit Fuller. Fuller got up from the turf slowly, shaking his head, while Klein ran back to his huddle to be mobbed by his teammates.In a microcosm, that one play told the story of Friday’s matchup: Basalt simply outhit the undermatched Skiers in a convincing 27-8 win. Aspen’s lone touchdown – the Skiers’ first of the season – came with less than a minute to play when Fuller broke a 59-yard run against Basalt’s second-string defense.
“We were excited to get up against these guys,” Basalt coach Forrest Grosh said. “My hats off to [Aspen], they played real well. But we just picked up our defensive intensity, which we certainly lacked those first two weeks. They just played great and gave the ball to the offense.”The win was Basalt’s first of the season, moving the Longhorns to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the 2A Western Slope. The Skiers dropped to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.While Aspen’s offense was nearly shut out again after going scoreless for the first 11 quarters of the season, the Skiers moved the ball effectively at times against the Longhorns. What did the Skiers in was penalties. Aspen’s offense was whistled for seven offsides penalties and had a personal foul stop a drive. Basalt picked off Skiers quarterback Matt Beirne three times in the second half, although all three came after Basalt turned the ball over three times, and with Aspen facing a three-touchdown deficit.Beirne replaced starter Harry Maniloff, who was injured on a kickoff return after Basalt took a 21-0 lead with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.”Penalties hurt us, but I’m so proud of these young men,” Aspen coach Travis Benson said. “We lost a quarterback this game, we lost basically three or four linemen at a time, and our starting defensive end. Matt Beirne, my hat is off to that kid. He has taken six snaps all year. It’s unbelievable the way he played.”
Two of Beirne’s picks came on tipped balls near the goal line with Aspen driving, the last coming with two minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the game. Andy Mayer had the first interception, Dalton Jacobson had the second and Ryan Gawrys came up with the third. Aside from the picks, Beirne displayed an uncanny ability to make some big plays, including a number of key third-down conversions to keep Aspen drives alive.Aside from a pick on his team’s opening drive, Basalt quarterback Tucker Hinchliffe was nearly perfect, completing five of eight passes for 107 yards, with a long completion of 49 yards to sophomore Cody Kosinski. That pass set up Basalt’s second touchdown on a five-play, 85-yard drive midway through the second quarter. Klein, who also started at fullback for the Longhorns, capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.Hinchliffe also rushed seven times for 98 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown scamper on a quarterback sneak with two minutes remaining in the game. The senior was just looking for a yard on a second down play to pick up the first down so Basalt could run out the clock, but instead found himself with an easy lane to the end zone after slipping through a tackle at the line of scrimmage.
Basalt’s leading rusher was senior tailback Tony DiBacco, who finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. DiBacco, who returned to the lineup after missing last week’s loss to Grand Valley because of a personal matter, was at his best in Basalt’s first drive of the second half. He ran the ball on all but one snap of the eight-play, 74-yard march, which included a 46-yard sprint down the sideline on the first play from scrimmage.”We had a couple of guys that were missing last week, including Tony,” Grosh said. “Having them back makes a world of difference. Just having those team leaders out there, they got the job done.”Klein was the Longhorns’ leading tackler with 15, eight unassisted. Aspen’s Jordan Laughren was the Skier who intercepted Hinchliffe. The Skiers host Cedaredge next week at 7 p.m. Friday, while Basalt travels to Gunnison for a 3:30 p.m. game.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell was bumped up to the U.S. freeski A team for this coming winter season, which remains in limbo as coronavirus cases rise across the country.