Roaring Fork field goal beats Aspen, 20-17
Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
CARBONDALE — Tanner Nieslanik’s 51-yard run in the fourth quarter set up a go-ahead field goal from Alex Fisher, and Aspen’s field goal attempt with 13 seconds remaining failed in the Roaring Fork High School football team’s 20-17 nonleague victory Friday night.
Nieslanik also had a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter that gave the Rams (2-0 overall) an early lead. The victory for Roaring Fork was its first over the Skiers (1-1) in six years.
Ryan Fitzgerald finished with a game-high 147 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries for the Skiers, who had a pair of lost fumbles and were unable to take advantage of 11 penalties against Roaring Fork.
Nieslanik, who alternated between quarterback and running back, finished with 74 yards rushing with a touchdown to lead the Rams. Aspen’s defense limited him to negative-1 yard on his first 11 carries.
His big run came with just over 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Roaring Fork senior broke through a pile on a third-and-1 play from the Rams’ 40, then broke into the clear before he was run down at the Skiers’ 9.
The Skiers kept the Rams out of the end zone on the next three plays, and Fisher kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 23 seconds remaining to snap a 17-all tie.
Aspen got the ball back on its own 31 and, 11 plays later, spiked the ball on Roaring Fork’s 23 with 13.5 seconds remaining. It gave a chance at a 39-yard field goal to Aspen kicker John Heaphey, who had converted a 32-yard field goal with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 17.
But the snap slipped in the wet and soggy conditions on the Roaring Fork Middle School football field. Aspen tight end Henry Woodrow scooped the ball up and threw a desperation pass up the field, but it fell incomplete.
Tanner Nieslanik’s punt return for a score — his second punt return for a touchdown in as many games — was helped thanks to a pancake block from Roaring Fork’s Nate Nieslanik. It opened up a wide-open sideline for Tanner, for the first-quarter score.
Aspen responded in the second quarter with a 21-yard run from Fitzgerald with 10:19 left before halftime that evened the score at 7-7 after Heaphey’s point-after kick. Fisher gave Roaring Fork a 10-7 halftime lead with a 28-yard field goal, and Nieslanik’s 6-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave the Rams a 17-7 lead. The Skiers responded, though, driving 76 yards on 10 plays and pulling within 17-14 on a 2-yard TD run from Young.
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A confident group early in the season, the Aspen High School boys soccer team lost its footing midway through and could have seen its playoff aspirations slip away. But the Skiers came together in a way they hadn’t in many years.