The drive was more family sedan than sports car.
But the run-oriented, defensive-minded Steamboat Springs football team didn't make it to the Class 3A state playoffs with its high-octane offense and shiny results.
So, up 20 points against Harrison, with starting quarterback Tanner Stillwell on the sideline in street clothes after injuring his ankle late in the second quarter, Steamboat back--up quarterback Jack Serhant, a senior, turned to the two players behind him -- senior Walker Hammond and sophomore Jay Hanley.
The pair carried the Sailors on an eight-play, 58-yard drive that lasted 3 minutes, 47 seconds. The scoring drive was capped off on Hammond's 9-yard touchdown run with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
"It was a big, long, powering drive," said Serhant, who played quarterback at his old school in Massachusetts before moving to Steamboat last year. "It really took them out of it."
The score gave the Sailors a 27-0 advantage and put an emphatic stamp on an impressive 44-14 road victory against the Panthers.
"That was the drive of the season," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said.
Steamboat will wait for the result of today's Eagle Valley and Cherokee Trail game to see who and where it will play next.
Despite being a playoff game, Friday's contest was never close. Steamboat was ready to go from the opening kick.
Steamboat's defense sent Harrison backward on its opening possession, and then the Sailors' special teams took over the game. Sophomore Nigel Hammond blocked his fifth punt of the season, and senior Vince Grippa recovered the blocked punt on the Harrison 22-yard line, setting up a short field for the Sailors' offense.
Steamboat scored three plays later on Stillwell's 1-yard run with 9:46 left in the first quarter. The play was set up by Hammond's 15-yard run one play earlier.
The Sailors stopped the Panthers on Harrison's second possession of the first quarter. A great 13-yard punt return from Serhant set up another short field for Steamboat's offense.
The Sailors started on the Panther's 25-yard line, and Hanley's first run went for no gain. His second went for 24 yards, as he rumbled all the way to the 1-yard line.
Steamboat wasn't able to get across the goal line, however, and sophomore Ben DeLine, one of many members of Steamboat's special teams who dominated Friday's game, made a 21-yard field goal with 4:53 left in the first. He finished the game with three field goals and a total of 13 points.
Steamboat added its third score of the first quarter with 1:42 left on Stillwell's second 1-yard dive across the line.
Senior Thomas Allen intercepted Adam Gates' pass intended for Antoine Watson on Harrison's next possession, setting up the Stillwell score. Allen took the ball to the Panthers' 38-yard line.
Allen was rewarded for his great defensive play on Steamboat's ensuing possession when he caught a 34-yard pass from Stillwell that took the Sailors down to the 1-yard line.
"They executed so well," Harrison coach Shawn Mitchell said.
DeLine added a 35-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, giving the Sailors a 20-0 halftime lead that Harrison never threatened to overcome.
Steamboat was dealt a blow late in the second quarter when Stillwell went down with a knee injury after running for a first down. Finch did not know the severity of the injury or whether Stillwell would be able to play next week.
The Sailors stepped up in his absence. Steamboat started off the third quarter with a shaky drive, but its defense held, setting up the Sailors' late third-quarter score that sealed the game.
"We knew we needed to go out and knock these guys over," senior Zack Savage said.
Hanley finished with 172 yards rushing, and Hammond had 90 yards. It was the first game this season in which both have been healthy at the same time and able to play on a dry field.
Steamboat was able to empty its bench in a playoff game, which is great for the future. But the biggest applause was reserved for senior receiver Byron Radcliff, who has put in many hours of practice since seventh grade and finally got a varsity reception Friday night, a 7-yard pass from freshman Alex Wood.
He said team members had a feeling they would fare well against Harrison after watching game film.
"We thought we could run at them," he said.
Steamboat improves to 9-2 with the win. Harrison finishes the season at 5-6 overall.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org