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Pirate football season ends with loss to Bayfield Wolverines

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Springs Pirates, fresh from their 28-17 victory over the Gunnison Cowboys the previous week, ended their season on a down note, losing 47-7 against the Bayfield Wolverines last Friday on a cold, clear, crisp night in Golden Peaks Stadium.

“Obviously Bayfield is a very talented football team,” coach Olin Garrison admitted. “They should do very well in the playoffs. They’ve pretty much dominated everybody all year except, I think, Grand Valley. That was their only close game.”

The Pirates won the opening coin toss and the team captains, seniors Keith Archuleta and Slade Wylie, elected to kick the ball for the first half and then receive the ball after halftime. Wylie’s opening kickoff was returned to the 37-yard line before the runner was brought down by David McRee.

At first it appeared the Pirate defense had the situation under control, giving up little or no yardage on two rushing attempts up the middle, but then a pitch to the right threw the defense off balance and the runner was able to rush all the way down the sideline, giving the Wolverines the first touchdown with just over a minute gone from the clock. The extra point kick was good, making it 7-0.

On his first play of the game quarterback Dean Scott dropped back to pass, couldn’t find an open receiver, and was forced to scramble out of the pocket, pitching the ball back to one of his runners at the last second before getting tackled. Unfortunately, because of the pressure from the defense, Scott’s pitch was off target, his running back couldn’t get to it, and the Wolverines recovered the ball deep in Pirate territory.

Within three plays the Wolverines scored their second touchdown and extra point, making it 14-0 with 9:13 still left in the first quarter.

“We approached the game that we could do things against them,” Garrison explained, “and we worked hard in practice. We thought we could handle them but they are physically just a better football team than us, and just about everybody they played.”

Archuleta took the first handoff of the Pirates’ second drive and it looked as if he was ready to give an appropriate response to the Wolverine’s two quick touchdowns, breaking several tackles and rushing across midfield to the opposite 36-yard line, a gain of 28 yards. The crowd went wild until the officials indicated that the ball had been stripped from Archuleta’s grasp on the tackle and the turnover gave the ball back to the Wolverines.

The Wolverines were able to march back down the field in short order, using a combination of handoffs, pitches and forward passes that left the Pirate defense reeling and off guard. In the end, a quarterback sneak from four yards out and another good extra point kick brought the score up to 21-0 with 6:04 left in the first quarter.

For their first two possessions of the game the Pirates only had control of the ball for a grand total of 16 seconds before turning it over each time. However, it appeared that the third time would be the charm. With the offense finally starting to function and drive the ball, they made it across midfield to the Wolverine 40 yard line before Scott was sacked, Jeremiah Miller was tripped in the backfield, and a short run brought up fourth down and long. The Pirates were forced to punt.

Cody Kimsey’s kick was high, short and wobbly and it bounced out of bounds on the Wolverine 39-yard line.

The second play of the Wolverine drive saw the runner break free and almost make it into the end zone, stopped at the last moment by a brilliant open field tackle from behind by Scott (who plays both offense and defense) on the Pirate one-yard line. On the next play the Wolverines punched it in up the middle, but a blocked extra point kick kept the score at 27-0 with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Pirates began the second quarter by making it out to the 47 before the drive stalled out and they were forced to punt. This time Kimsey’s kick was much better, high and deep into Wolverine territory, where it was bobbled by the receiver. Pirate special team players were all over it, but couldn’t get it under control before it squirted out of bounds.

The Wolverines took possession on their 30 and began once again to walk all over the Pirate defense, making it out across midfield to the 49-yard line before the Pirates finally decided they had had enough. They broke up a pitch play and Keenan Early scooped up the loose ball.

However, the Pirate offense was again unable to capitalize on the turnover, and on fourth down, Kimsey’s punt bounced out of bounds deep in Wolverine territory, where a personal foul penalty pushed the Wolverines even closer to their own end zone.

After a five-yard run gave him a little breathing room, the Wolverine quarterback ran the ball himself on an option play, picked up a few good blocks, broke free and won a spectacular 90-yard footrace into the Pirate end zone. Fortunately for the Pirates, all that effort was wasted due to an illegal block to the back penalty, which brought the ball all the way back to the Wolverine nine-yard line.

The runner was then tackled for a loss of five and another block to the back penalty was called against the Wolverines, which was declined by the Pirates, bringing up third down and 11 on the four-yard line. Any hopes the Pirates might have had for holding them in that deep hole were shattered on the next play, however, when the Wolverine runner made it out to the 40.

The drive continued across midfield and all the way to the Pirate 35 where the Wolverines were prepared to score again when a quick dump-off pass was intercepted by Marcos Quezada, giving the Pirates their second turn over of the game.

Once again, however, Scott couldn’t get any protection from his offensive line, getting sacked twice for a loss of 12 yards, and when the run on third down and long went nowhere, Kimsey was brought out for another punt.

The Wolverine receiver was unable to hold on to the ball again, and this time the Pirates got their third turnover of the game on the Wolverine 31-yard line. As the drive began, it appeared Scott and his offense finally had some momentum, making it down to the 20-yard line with nine seconds left in the first half.

After a Pirate timeout to think it over, Quezada was sent in to attempt a field goal to get some points on the home team side of the scoreboard. The snap was clean and Quezada’s distance was good, but his aim was off slightly, missing a little to the left.

Quezada took the opening kickoff of the second half to the 30-yard line, but once again the Pirate offense proved no match for the Wolverine defense. A short run, a delay of game penalty, an incomplete pass, and a seven-yard run brought up another punting situation.

The Wolverines began to march the ball back, but a fumble near midfield was recovered by the Pirates, their fourth turnover of the game. J. C. Parsons ran for one yard, Scott had two incomplete passes, and once again the drive made no progress, forcing a kick, which was short and took a bad bounce, giving the Wolverines good field position.

A 56-yard run right up the middle gave the Wolverines another touchdown and an extra point kick that just barely cleared the uprights gave the Wolverines a 34-0 lead with 7:25 left in the third quarter.

Quezada returned the ball to the 30 and Kimsey ran for four more yards, but an incomplete pass and a handoff that was stopped for a loss of two brought up another punt, which had a lot of height and made it to the Wolverine 38.

A quarterback sneak brought the ball across midfield and a tricky misdirection play brought it down to the Pirate 20. At this point the frustration level on the part of the Pirates reached such a boiling point that someone lost control of his temper and a flag was thrown against the Pirates for the use of inappropriate language, a 10-yard penalty, giving the Wolverines a first and goal on the 10-yard line.

An easy pass to the end zone followed by a blocked kick made it 40-0 with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Quezada returned the kick out to the 21-yard line. Scott bobbled the ball but fell on it for a loss of 7, had an incomplete pass, then fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Wolverines in the end zone. The extra point brought the third quarter to an end with the score 47-0.

Quezada fielded the kickoff and began to return it when the ball was knocked loose. Luckily, it was recovered by the Pirates on the 22-yard line. Miller ran to the 25, an incomplete pass to Archuleta, and a handoff to Quezada gained 15 yards and a first down, but he was hit hard and injured. The next snap was mishandled and the Wolverines recovered the ball on the Pirate 40 yard line.

After a couple short plays, a fumble was recovered by Dalton Madden and ran 50 yards into the end zone for the Pirates first touchdown. Quezada, despite his injury on the previous play, hobbled out onto the field and kicked the extra point, making it 47-7 with seven minutes left in the game.

“We were kind of a patched up team,” Garrison noted. “We had a lot of injuries, and with all their talent we just weren’t a match for them.

“Creede Wylie deserves a badge of courage, because he played on a really sore foot and gave it his best effort. He’ll probably have to have surgery on that foot after the season is over with. He played tough and we are really proud of him.

“Alonzo Hernandez, one of our guards, has two bad ankles; he has to have them taped. He’s still limping on them a little bit and he toughed it out and played.

“Cody Couch was out. Josh Smith came in early in the fall with a knee injury he had gotten on a motorcycle during the summer and he’s been going about 70-percent-speed all year.”

Quezada continued to play through the pain making an onside kick to the 50 yard line, where the Wolverines fell on the ball and were subsequently able to march down to the Pirate six yard line before the clock ran out, ending the game, and the season, for the Pirates.

Scott only completed three out of nine passes (one each to Archuleta, Madden and Kimsey) for a total of 20 yards, while Archuleta rushed for 33 yards, Miller for 32 and Quezada for 31. Madden scored the only touchdown for the Pirates, but it was while on defense—a fumble recovery and a 50 yard return. Archuleta led the defense with six tackles and one assist.

“The good news is we only had two seniors left this year,” Garrison said. “All these kids are coming back, so we’re going to talk to them about what we have to do next year to be a better football team — how important it is to start getting ready now, and not in August, on our strength training and working on our movement. Hopefully, some of them will grow a little bit, and we’ve got a few guys who might need to lose a few pounds.”

Garrison projected next year the team will have 12-14 seniors returning from this year, which is the most they have had in a long time.

“If,” he emphasized. “That’s a big word — ‘if.’ If they start working now, I think they will be pleased with the results they will get next year, but we can’t wait until August to start working.”

ed.fincher@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on November 19, 2012.