Fri Sep 30th, 2016
Special to the Drum
Perhaps it was the freakish first-down start – senior Zach Weinreich’s apparent completion splitting receiver Timmy Plehinger’s hands and ending up in those of opposing defensive back Noah Haarmann – or the frosty weather with the temperature down into the high 30s at the finish.
Whatever the reason, ‘it’ kept fans assembled at IHS Field for the team’s Sept. 23 home-opener from seeing the explosive, opportunistic Bobcats which had mangled Montezuma-Cortez the previous week as 2A Pagosa Springs rolled into town and ultimately out as 25-7 winners.
And after Haarmann’s return put the Pirates at the Ignacio 5-yard line, and sophomore Connor Aragon plowed in from a yard on second down – giving the guests a snap 7-0 (Josh Kuening left-footed through the point-after kick) lead – ‘it,’ the PSHS strategy, became obvious by when the first quarter’s last 10:56 expired:
Keep the ball on the ground, keep Ignacio’s pass-based offense off it as long as possible.
Of Pagosa’s 14 first-quarter plays, including quarterback Cade Cowan’s lost fumble – recovered by, ironically, Plehinger – at IHS’ 5 with 5:11 left, 12 were runs. The second quarter began with another before Cowan flung a six-yard TD to Haarmann with 11:04 before halftime.
Following a three-and-out series offensively, the Bobcats got a break when Kuening missed a 28-yard field goal with 3:56 left, and another when junior Marcus Chapman recovered a muffed punt at the PS 44 to prolong a promising drive which unluckily stalled out at the 40 with only 28.9 seconds left before the break.
Taking the second-half kickoff back to the same spot beginning the third quarter, PSHS made sure to get Kuening another opportunity and the senior drilled a 23-yard FG on the tenth play (eight were runs) of a series which milked 5:03 off the scoreboard clock.
The Cats (2-2 overall) again went three-and-out in reply, with senior Colten Smithson’s third punt netting just 20 yards, and the Pirates managed to kill off the frame’s last 4:27 before relinquishing possession one play into the fourth quarter as IHS held firm at its 6-yard line.
Smithson, summoned after yet another three-and-out, then traded punts with Pagosa’s Ty Kimsey, whose perfect effort netted 40 yards to within inches of the Ignacio goal line – and ultimately yielded a safety when Aragon managed to wrap Weinreich up in the end zone on third down.
Swiftly salting the Bobcats’ wounds, the Pirates then took a short free kick back to the Ignacio 39 with 7:54 left, and five plays (again, all runs) later increased their advantage to 25-0 when Kimsey scored from three yards out just 2:33 later. Plehinger, however, stormed through the visitors’ line to emphatically block Kuening’s PAT, keeping hope alive for a positive ending.
Inactive for IHS’ 37-12 rout of 2A M-CHS at Panther Stadium, sophomore reserve QB Isaiah Jacket was given the reins for what would be the squad’s last series and led the Cats on an impressive 16-play, 79-yard march – finishing it off with a sinking six-yard toss over the middle to Chapman with only 1:23 remaining.
Senior Lorenzo Pena’s PAT was true, all but sealing Pagosa Springs’ final 18-point margin of victory – their first in 2016 after three defeats, and nine since stopping Ignacio 24-6 last year at Golden Peaks Stadium.
Unofficially Jacket finished 7-of-9 passing for 64 yards and Weinreich 7-19 for 53. Jacket’s six carries netted him a team-leading five rushing yards. Junior Kruz Pardo caught four passes for 31 yards, sophomore Lawrence Valdez four for 25, and Chapman two for 20.
Kimsey paced the Pirates with 65 yards on 11 carries; Aragon booked 58 on 18 and Cowan 51 on 12.
“We just really wanted this win,” Aragon said. “Worked really hard all week in practice, and we did what we needed. We’ve still got a lot to work on, but I think we’re getting somewhere.”
Ignacio will next travel to Monte Vista on Sept. 30 to begin 1A Southern Peaks Conference work, with MVHS coming in to the 7 p.m. kickoff standing just 1-3 overall. Their lone win, however, came at PSHS’ expense, 31 to 14. The Bobcats will then host SPC nemesis Dolores on Oct. 7 (again, a 7 p.m. start).