Friday, September 27, 2002
Steamboat Springs Chance Phelps wasn't supposed to be there. He wasn't even on the roster.
But the transfer student, making his first start of the season for Palisade, returned an interception for a touchdown to spoil Steamboat Springs' hopes for a come-from-behind win Friday night at Gardner Field.
Trailing by four, Steamboat had just recovered an onside kick and was driving on a tired Bulldogs defense flat on their heels.
On second-and-eight, May dropped back and looked to senior Zach Forcum on the left sideline. May said he knew he needed some air under the short pass to the outside. That, coupled with the hit he took as he released the ball, left the football almost hanging in the air before Phelps snatched it and dashed nearly 75 yards for the score.
It was the first time all evening anyone was there to defend that pass as Steamboat went on to lose to Palisade, 31-26.
Bulldogs coach Todd Casebier called Friday's game another in a line of classic contests between the schools. He said it was about time his boys came out on top in a close game.
"The past three times it has come down to the end," Casebier said. "I was certainly impressed with Steamboat's kids. There is no quit in those kids."
No, there wasn't. The Sailors' offense ran back out onto the field, down 11, with 2:58 left in the game. And May not only led Steamboat down the field, he scored a touchdown with 1:48 to go.
Nearly sacked, May put his hand down on the grass, got up, dodged a few wannabe tacklers and weaved his way 18 yards downfield for the score nearly two minutes after being intercepted.
"I just put my head down and ran," May said. "Actually, I was only looking to get a couple yards."
Instead, Steamboat made it interesting yet again. The onside kick unit ran back out onto the field. Sophomore placekicker Tyler Fosdick said he practices that 10-yard squib kick quite a bit on his own. Senior Jeremy Hays, who recovered a fumble and the first onside kick, said he was ready but admitted it's unlikely for a team to recover two onside kicks in one game.
It's unlikely a team even gets to kick two in one game. With 1:10 to go, Fosdick's kick to the right side never took a good hop and bounced 20 yards down the field before the Bulldogs recovered, allowing quarterback Dustin Harris to take a knee and run out the clock.
Steamboat coach Mark Drake was disappointed in the loss but felt once again his kids rose to the occasion as a unit, not as individuals.
"We win as a team, we lose as a team," Drake said. "These kids could have rolled over and lost by three touchdowns. I felt we should have won had we not made mistakes."
While May's interception seemed costly because of the timing, it wasn't the reason the Sailors lost.
Missed tackles, 12 penalties for 75 yards, and four big Palisade plays for touchdowns served as the bigger culprits.
"Everyone's disappointed we lost," May said.
"But I think we lost this game. We can play with anybody and beat anybody in this league."