The Pagosa Springs Pirates came through with one of their best games of the season last Friday, defeating Buena Vista, 36-23, and now take time off from competition until Oct. 17 when they host 3A Delta High School in a nonconference game.
Though Buena Vista defeated Bayfield a week earlier, they never held a lead over Pagosa at Golden Peaks Stadium. The Pirates led 8-7 after the first quarter, 24-10 at the half and 30-13 after three quarters.
Most of the Pirate yardage came via the running game, but two big time passes by senior Taylor Shaffer also resulted in touchdowns.
Coach Sean O’Donnell complimented several Pirate linemen who performed well against Buena Vista. Praised for their blocking were left tackle Andrew Rice, left guard Myron Voorhis, left guard Clinton Manzanares, center Wes Royston, right guard Dakota Ross and right tackle Sackett Ross. O’Donnell said the line blocking by these six players made it possible for Pirate runners to make steady gains against the Demons.
Pirate ground game stats show Mike Smith with 20 rushes and 134 yards gained,
Senior Joe DuCharme carried the ball 15 times for 86 yards and Shaffer had 6 yards gained on five runs.
On defense, DuCharme led the Pirate tacklers with 23, the top individual Pirate total for the season thus far. Tyson Ross, Sackett Ross, Smith and Clinton Manzanares each contributed eight tackles.
Part of the Pirate strategy in the game was to stop the runs by Buena Vista’s Larson Greenfield, “who could beat us by himself,” said O’Donnell. “We knew we had to stop him and we focused on that all week in preparation,” said the coach. Last year, Greenfield was a major player in Buena Vista’s defeat of Pagosa Springs. Greenfield gained 132 yards on 20 carries last week, but he was sacked three times by Pirate defenders.
The Pirate offense featured fewer passes than in previous games. Shaffer had fewer passes than usual, but he was good on five of eight attempts. These passes netted 170 yards. He threw no interceptions.
Tyson Ross continued with a tremendous freshman season, catching two passes for 111 yards. DuCharme caught three passes for 59 yards.
DuCharme scored the first two Pirate touchdowns on runs of 10 and 5 yards. The third Pirate touchdown was on a 74-yard pass play from Shaffer to Tyson Ross.
Pagosa got its fourth score on a pass from Shaffer to DuCharme. The play covered 59 yards.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Pirates drove 54 yards on ten plays, with Smith punching the ball over the goal line on a 6-yard run to clinch the win 36-23 with 1:40 minutes left in the game.
Greenfield gained one first down as time ran out, but the Pirates kept Buena Vista from scoring.
“The team was determined to win;“ this was a game we needed, said O’Donnell.
The Pirates, now 2-1 in the Mountain Conference, are tied with Bayfield for first place in the league. After the Delta game, the Pirates must take on Centauri and Bayfield before the regular season ends.
O’Donnell is optimistic the Pirates can reach the state playoffs.