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Despite scoring the first touchdown of the game, the Pagosa Springs Pirates were unable to hang on to an early lead and ended up losing to the Grand Valley Cardinals 45-19 last Friday night at Golden Peaks Stadium.
Jeremiah Miller ran the ball in from the 2-yard line and Marcos Quezada kicked the extra point to give the Pirates a 7-0 advantage just over three and a half minutes into the game. The Cardinals received the kickoff and marched down to the Pirates’ 15-yard line, but were stopped inside the red zone, and the Pirates took over after an incomplete pass on fourth down and five.
Miller ran for eight yards and quarterback Dean Scott ran for a first down out to the 29-yard line, but after two short runs and an incomplete pass the Pirates were forced to punt. The ball took a good roll and wound up on the Cardinal 30. After a good drive and a couple of first downs the quarter ended with the Cardinals at the Pirate 34 yard line.
That’s when things started to fall apart for the Pirates.
“At times I am just really impressed with our kids,” head coach Olin Garrison said. “They just do a good job, and then I don’t know what happens. We seem to lose that intensity somewhere and then we make mistakes. Both offensively and defensively we broke down quite a few times and let them have big plays on us.”
The first three plays of the second quarter saw the Cardinals march down to the Pirate ten yard line, and then on third down and three they ran it in for a touchdown. However, the two-point conversion attempt was stopped short, leaving the Pirates in the lead, 7-6, with just over 10 minutes left in the half.
It looked as if the Pirates were fired up and ready to respond. Dalton Madden took the kickoff on his own 10-yard line and avoided several tackles as he ran it all the way back to mid-field, then Chase Patane ran it to the Cardinal 33-yard line.
The Pirates made it all the way to the 25 before Miller was tackled in the backfield for a loss of five, which brought up a fourth down and six yards. The Pirates went for it with a pass to Archuleta on the 22-yard line, giving them another first down. However, that’s as close as they got to the end zone. After four more plays they were unable to get another first down and the Cardinals took over on their 24-yard line.
Things continued to go downhill for the Pirates. From a short screen pass, a Cardinal receiver was able to escape several tackles and ran to the Pirate 8-yard line. The touchdown was narrowly prevented by the last ditch effort of Cody Kimsey, who brought the runner down with a brilliant open-field tackle.
Within two plays, however, the Cardinals scored their second touchdown and were successful with their two-point conversion attempt, bringing the score to 14-7 with four and a half minutes left in the first half.
“We’ve got to really work hard on every time the ball is snapped understanding that that play is the most important play of the game,” Garrison said. “Particularly on defense we’ve got to be more consistent. We can’t give up the big plays. When we let them have that long pass or that long run it hurts the morale of the team.”
On the next kickoff the ball bounced off the receiver’s chest, but the Pirates were able to recover it. Then, after three short gains and an incomplete pass, Pagosa was forced to punt.
Once again, the Cardinals began to march down the field, but the Pirate defense got their heads back in the game. Jeremiah Miller made a nice open-field tackle. The Cardinal quarterback, under a lot of pressure and almost sacked, was forced to throw the ball away — the pass almost intercepted — and the Pirates forced a fumble and took over on the 19-yard line.
The Pirates began to march the ball back down the field, making it all the way to the Cardinal 27-yard line before time ran out in the half.
Just over one minute into the third quarter, the Pirates gave up a 54-yard run and a touchdown within four plays, bringing the score to 20-7 after a missed extra point attempt.
After one first-down conversion, Pagosa was held to fourth down and long near midfield; the snap to the punter was high, forcing him to scramble for the ball and rush his kick, which only went about 10 yards.
That set the tone for the next Cardinal possession. After a short run and an incomplete pass, a 55 -yard touchdown pass brought the score to 26-7 with a failed two-point conversion.
After the kickoff, the Pirates took over on their own 28-yard line and marched the ball all the way to the Cardinal 12 before a fumble turned the ball over. The Cardinals promptly scored another touchdown after several long plays, and a blocked extra point kick brought the score to 32-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Pirates received the kickoff, ran a few plays, then allowed an interception, which was run back 30 yards for another touchdown, and a good extra point kick brought the score to 39-7 with a minute and a half left in the third.
The first play of the fourth quarter produced an interception, which the Cardinals returned to the Pirate 27. A short touchdown pass up the middle and an extra point kick that was wide to the left brought the score to 45-7.
For the rest of the fourth quarter, Marcos Quezada took over for Dean Scott as the quarterback.
“That drive we took the ball and drove down 77 yards,” Garrison said. “That’s a pretty good accomplishment for a high school team, to move the ball just four to eight yards at a time like that and drive all the way down the field. Usually a high school team will end up making a mistake some way or another, so that was a pretty impressive drive.”
Miller scored the Pirates’ only other two touchdowns. One, at the end of that long drive, was a 30-yard run with 4:17 left in the game, which brought the score to 45-13. The other, after a Cardinal fumble near midfield and a quick march back to the goal line, was a 5-yard run with 3:29 left, making the final score 45-19.
Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Golden Peaks Stadium, the Pagosa Pirates face the Olathe Pirates, who also have yet to win a game this season.
“They’re similar to us,” Garrison explained. “They look pretty good at times, but then they make mistakes. They’re very enthusiastic, they hustle and they’re aggressive. We’re going to have to play a top-notch game.”