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Going into Friday night’s football game at Golden Peaks Stadium, it was a foregone conclusion the Pirates were finally going to win one after six straight loses this season, however, there was no guarantee which set of Pirates it would be, and, as it turned out, the Olathe Pirates handed the Pagosa Springs Pirates their seventh straight loss with a final score of 20-14.
According to head coach Olin Garrison, “We were looking real good and doing a great job on both sides of the ball, and then in the late part of the third quarter or first part of the fourth quarter, we started having some breakdowns on defense and let them have some big plays.”
Pagosa took the opening kickoff and began marching the ball down the field, with Chase Patane running for 9 yards out to the 27-yard line, Jeremiah Miller running 18 yards out to the 44-yard line, and Dean Scott completing his first pass to Keith Archuleta, who took it to the Olathe 44-yard line.
The next play, a misdirection-fake and a handoff to Miller, threw the Olathe defense off balance and Miller was able to run untouched down the sideline into the end zone, giving Pagosa the first touchdown of the game. With less than three minutes gone from the clock, Marcos Quezada’s extra point kick gave Pagosa the lead, 7-0.
“We finally got a big play on offense,” Garrison beamed. “Jeremiah Miller, our running back, broke a counter play. That was exciting! We haven’t had too many big plays on offense this season, so that was a good feeling.”
At 46 degrees, it was a cold, rainy, miserable night at Golden Peaks Stadium, at least for the fans in the stands, but an opening drive like that made it all worthwhile.
“The weather was pretty good,” Garrison said. “It wasn’t that cold. The field was a little damp, but the weather didn’t affect the game.”
Now playing defense, Patane disrupted Olathe’s first play of the game, wrapping up the runner behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of three. Next, a fumble was barely recovered by Olathe for a further loss of yardage. Then, a short run brought up fourth and long, forcing Olathe to punt.
However, a holding call against Pagosa occurred before the punt, which meant Olathe got the ball back with a first down and a second chance to keep their drive alive.
A 9-yard run to the Pagosa 47, and a 4-yard run gave Olathe another first down. A couple more runs brought up third and 3, but then a holding call against Olathe pushed them back to the 47-yard line for a third and 13.
Archuleta wrapped up the quarterback as he tried to run the ball and held him for a gain of only one yard, making it fourth down and 12, but Olathe went for it with a bit of a razzle-dazzle play, tossing the ball to the running back, who then threw it down field far enough for the first down at the Pagosa 31-yard line.
The next handoff saw the Olathe runner almost break into the endzone with a 23-yard pickup, but a penalty on the next play brought the ball back out to the 13-yard line. Tate Drane kept the runner out of the endzone on the next play, but Olathe ran it in from three yards out with just over a minute left in the first quarter. The extra point kick failed, making the score 7-6, with Pagosa maintaining a slight lead.
The start of the second quarter saw Pagosa punting the ball, which took a good roll all the way to the Olathe 27, but then the Olathe runner brought it all the way back into Pagosa territory and was finally brought down on the 46-yard line by Cody Kimsey and David McRee.
For the first play of Olathe’s possession, Slade Wylie slammed the runner face first into the turf just short of the line of scrimmage. The second play saw the runner again hit behind the line of scrimmage, but this time he kept his feet and kept moving for a gain of 7 to just over the 40-yard line. Then a run to the 33-yard line gave Olathe a first down.
A two-yard pass and a four-yard run brought up third down and three on the Pagosa 26, but then Wylie stopped the runner short, bringing up a fourth down and three. They went for it and the pass was nearly intercepted by Kimsey, and then nearly caught by the Olathe receiver, but in the end was dropped, and Pagosa took possession of the ball on their own 25-yard line with just over eight minutes left in the half.
On the back of several good rushes by Miller and Quezada the Pagosa offense marched the ball slowly but steadily down the field until a complete pass to Kimsey just barely gave them a first down inside the Olathe 10-yard line.
A handoff to Caden Henderson gave Pagosa a few more yards, and then a run by Scott for three and a short run by Miller brought up fourth down and goal to go on the 3-yard line.
Miller then accepted a handoff and, with some good blocking and hard running, punched it up the middle for a touchdown. Quezada’s extra point kick gave Pagosa a 14-7 lead with 34 seconds left in the first half. Thanks to an interception by Kimsey, Pagosa kept Olathe contained until halftime.
Olathe accepted the second half kickoff on their own 28-yard line, but then a few short runs brought up fourth down and two. Olathe went for it but was unable to gain a first down, so Pagosa took over the ball on the Olathe 35-yard line.
Pagosa went three and out; Kimsey’s punt from midfield took a good roll and went out of bounds on the Olathe 8-yard line.
This was where the Pagosa defense began to fall apart. Olathe was able to drive all the way down the field until, in a bazaar play, a fumbled snap was scooped up by the Olathe quarterback and a fake handoff followed by a short pitch threw Pagosa off balance, allowing a 12-yard run into the end zone. A pass for the two-point conversion tied the game at 14-14 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
Pagosa took the kickoff at their own 27-yard line, but then on the next play Miller accepted the handoff and had the ball stripped from his grasp. Pagosa’s first turn-over of the game allowed Olathe to take possession within easy striking distance on the Pagosa 29-yard line.
Olathe made it all the way to the Pagosa 5-yard line, but then the fourth quarter began with the Olathe runner, on fourth down, getting wrapped up for a one yard loss by Patane, giving Pagosa possession deep in their own territory.
The Pirates was unable to dig their way out of the hole, and were forced to punt. Kimsey’s kick took a good roll but didn’t make it beyond midfield, and was downed by Pagosa on the 44-yard line.
Wylie sacked the quarterback for a loss of two, then Miller sacked him for a loss of five, pushing Olathe back into their own territory for a third down and 17 on the 49.
However, on the next play, Olathe responded with a short pitch to the right side; the runner broke one tackle, gathered some steam and rushed in for a 51-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion run was stopped short by McRee and Wylie, making the score 20-14 with Olathe taking the lead for the first time with almost nine minutes left in the game.
Quezada ran the kickoff out to the 30-yard line. At this point, the Pagosa offense had controlled the ball for five plays in the second half for a gain of only three yards, when they started this drive going backwards — Scott getting sacked for a loss of six.
“Offensively, we were trying to catch up because they took the lead,” Garrison explained later. “We broke down some on our blocking when we were trying to pass and couldn’t get back down the field.”
Olathe got the ball back near midfield on a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.
After an incomplete pass the Olathe quarterback decided to run the ball himself on an option play, but he was hit hard and the ball was knocked lose, scooped up by Quezada and ran all the way back almost to the Olathe 20-yard line with 3:55 remaining, giving Pagosa the perfect opportunity to tie up the game or even retake the lead.
After a 4-yard gain by Miller, a holding call brought the ball back 10 yards to the 26, an incomplete pass made it third down and 15, and Scott was sacked for another loss of six, making it fourth down and long.
“We had some good drives in this game,” Garrison said afterwards. “When they called holding on us, it hurt the drive. We couldn’t recover from that. We didn’t quite finish it off, so we’ve got to keep from making mistakes like that. We had quite a few penalties.”
Pagosa went for it, but all receivers were covered and Scott was tackled for another loss, giving the ball back to Olathe with barely two minutes left in the game, and with only one Pagosa timeout remaining it was just a matter of burning up the clock.
“The effort was good; the desire was there,” Garrison explained. “It just … I don’t know. It’s just tough. The kids really took it hard. It was an emotional loss. We have to recoup and try again.”
Miller led the Pagosa offense with 124 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Quezada carried the ball three times for 17 yards and kicked two extra-point conversions. Scott completed three of seven passes for 27 yards, two to Archuleta for 22 yards and one to Drane for five, and ran the ball himself five times for nine yards.
Keenan Early led the defense with eight tackles and three assists, followed by McRee with seven tackles and four assists, and Slade Wylie with six tackles and five assists.
During a Saturday morning review meeting, Garrison told the team, “From the sidelines we could tell that the desire was there, and the effort. You put a lot into it and it didn’t work out. I know it hurts. It hurts all of us, but it’s just like life. When things don’t work out, you’ve gotta regroup and keep after it, so that’s what we’re gonna try to do.”
This week, Pagosa travels to Gunnison to play the Cowboys Friday night at 7 p.m. The Cowboys also suffered their seventh straight loss last week against Bayfield, 58-14. “They’ll do a pretty good job at times and then they have difficulties themselves. They’ve given up a lot of big plays,” said Garrison of Gunnison.
After the game against the Cowboys, the Pirates’ final game of the season will be against Bayfield on Oct. 26, at Golden Peaks Stadium. The Wolverines have yet to lose a game this season and are ranked third in the state in Class 2A.