The Pagosa Springs Pirate football team lost a Mountain Conference game to the Salida Spartans, 21-6, last Friday — a team Pagosa defeated 40-20 last season.
According to Pirate coach Sean O’Donnell “Our team intensity level wasn’t there last week in Salida. We have to win all our remaining league games if we are to reach the playoffs. The last four regular season Pirate games are all at home.” Three of those games are against Mountain Conference opponents.
The Pirates are now 1-1 in conference play, having beaten Monte Vista Sept. 19.
The Salida game was the first contest this season in which Pagosa scored only one touchdown.
There were six Pirate turnovers during the game, including four pass interceptions and two fumbles lost to the Spartans.
Quarterback Taylor Shaffer completed eight passes in 23 attempts for 98 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Tyson Ross in the final quarter.
The Pirates gained 149 yards rushing. Shaffer gained 67 yards on 13 runs, and Mike Smith gained 65 yards on nine runs. Joe DuCharme gained 17 yards on eight rushes.
On defense, Paul Hoffman led Pirate tacklers with eight. DuCharme and Steven Smith had seven tackles each.
On the third play of the game at Salida, the home team intercepted a Shaffer pass and ran it to the Pirate 8-yard line.
Two passes later, the Spartans hit pay dirt and their PAT was blocked. Salida led 6-0.
On their next series of downs, the Pirates went three and out. Tyson Ross punted 55 yards and the Spartans started a drive at their 17-yard line. Ten plays later, the Spartans were forced to punt and the Pirates took over on their own 34.
But, on second down, the Pirates lost the ball on a fumble at the Spartan 42. .
Early in the second quarter, the Spartans pulled further ahead on a 3-yard pass play to make it 13-0. The PAT was good and the home team led 14-0.
Right before the half, the Pirates drove to the Salida 38-yard line, but failed to get into the end zone.
On the second half kickoff, the Pirates tried an onside kick by John Jewell and recovered the football. On the first play from scrimmage in the half, however, Shaffer’s pass was intercepted at the Spartan 26-yard line. The Spartans moved the ball to the Pagosa 17-yard line on runs before the Pirates took over deep in their own territory.
After gaining one first down on a run by DuCharme, the Pirates’ second series of the half went three and out. Tyson Ross punted 36 yards to the Spartan 24.
Both teams were unable to move the ball, and at the end of the third period, the Spartans had the ball at the Pirate 23.
Salida went ahead 21-0 in the final quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run and a successful point-after.
The next time the Pirates got the ball, the team put together a scoring drive. Runs by Shaffer and DuCharme put the ball on the Spartan 34. Mike Smith took a pitch, turned the corner and ran the ball to Salida’s 8-yard line. From there, the Shaffer to Ross pass completed the drive. The PAT failed.
Salida’s final series of the game ended with a punt. DuCharme took a fair catch at the Pirate 20 and Pagosa moved upfield with four first downs, gaining ground to the Salida 14. Two incompletions and a sack ended the evening for the Pirates.
This week, the Pirates face Buena Vista at Golden Peaks Stadium at 7 p.m. in a crucial Mountain Conference game for each team. Pagosa needs to get back on the winning track, and Buena Vista needs to stay there. Last week, Buena Vista beat Bayfield, 35-21, handing the Wolverines their first conference loss.
“In the Salida game, we were outcoached,” said O’Donnell. “As coaches, we will have to work harder this week to be prepared for Buena Vista.”