Pirates’ run game key in win over Aspen
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The Skiers’ football game under the lights in Aspen Friday night had all the makings of a classic.
It was the Denver Post 2A Game of the Week, both teams featured potent offenses, both had been playing great football, and first place in the 2A Western Slope Conference was on the line. In the end, though, the Pirates’ vaunted ground attack proved too much, and Olathe rolled to an easy 52-26 victory.
“We had our moments,” said Aspen coach Mike Sirko. “But we just couldn’t stop them.”
Aspen trailed 28-12 at halftime and would cut the lead to 28-20 in the third quarter, but ultimately the Skiers’ defense couldn’t find an answer for Olathe tailback Dylan Markley. The Pirates’ speedy senior running back scored on runs of 69 and 28 yards in the first quarter, and OIathe quarterback Garhett Jurgens threw just one pass the entire game while rushing for two touchdowns himself.
Olathe, the defending state 2A champs and No. 2 in the state in the latest Post poll, came in riding a 20-game win streak. Aspen, No. 7, was no slouch itself, having averaged better than 45 points in trouncing its last three opponents to find itself at 5-1 overall and trailing just the Pirates in the league standings.
Things looked good early for the Skiers. Markley returned the opening kick to the Olathe 45-yard line, but Jurgens fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Aspen recovered the ball near midfield.
Aspen quarterback Anderson Cole completed three of four passes on the Skiers’ opening drive, leading an efficient march that was capped by a 13-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Nicky Ufkes. The extra point was missed, however, and the Skiers took an early 6-0 lead.
Olathe answered right back. On the ensuing drive, Markley broke off left tackle and found a seam in the Aspen defense on his way to a 69-yard run and a 7-6 lead for the Pirates.
Ufkes, who would finish with a team high 226 yards rushing on 34 carries, led a good drive for Aspen, bringing the Skiers deep into Olathe territory on a number of nifty runs. The drive was killed, though, when Cole coughed up the ball while being sacked. The Pirates recovered and brought the fumble all the way back to the Aspen 34. Two plays later, Markley went 28 yards around the left end for his second touchdown, giving Olathe a 14-6 advantage.
Mistakes doomed the Skiers on their next drive as well, when a botched snap on a punt attempt gave the Pirates possession of the ball at the Aspen 21. Olathe running back Kris Nieto eventually scored on an 8-yard carry, and the score was 21-6.
Aspen got some momentum back late in the second quarter when Ufkes followed up a 35-yard carry with a 6-yard scoring run, making the score 21-12 with 2:23 to go. But any dreams the Skiers had of mounting a comeback were squashed on the Pirates’ next drive. Jurgens scored from 17 yards out with no time left on the clock, and Aspen headed into halftime down 28-12.
The Skiers defense started the second half well, forcing Olathe to punt on its opening drive, and the Aspen offense continued to click, with Cole punctuating a long drive by scoring from 5 yards out on a quarterback sneak. With 5:23 left in the third quarter Aspen found itself down just eight, 28-20.
The home team seemed to run out of gas a little after that, though, and soon the rout was on. Nieto scored twice, and Jurgens added his second touchdown, putting Olathe up 49-20. The Skiers would score again on a 3-yard pass from Cole to wideout Walker Moriarty, but the game was well out of reach.
Cole completed 8 of 18 passes for 95 yards, and Moriarty led Aspen’s receivers with 5 catches for 77 yards.
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