Two games. Two fourth-quarter comebacks.
Steamboat Springs sophomore Jay Hanley could not explain why the Sailors have been so dominant late in games, so he listed the only thing he could think of.
"We just do Sailors football," he said.
On Saturday, that meant winning the old-fashioned way: running the ball and stuffing the run.
Steamboat amassed 259 yards on the ground, including 221 from Hanley, en route to the 31-22 win against Arvada. The Sailors' defense held the Reds to 66 yards rushing.
"We have guys learning (the defense) and understanding it," Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said.
The Sailors didn't get their hands on Reds quarterback Michael Rosales often, but the linemen did a good job swarming Arvada's running backs and flushing Rosales from the pocket.
The defense's key play came with 3:07 left in the fourth quarter. Down nine points, Arvada was driving before senior Scott Stanko picked off Rosales just outside the end zone.
The Sailors took over at their 2-yard line. A nice run from quarterback Tanner Stillwell moved the ball to the 10-yard line before the Reds called timeout.
The next play from scrimmage sealed the game for Steamboat when Hanley ran 78 yards past Arvada's sideline.
"The play was called 33-dive," Hanley said. "We read their defense, and they weren't letting us run up the middle. We put that play in right there."
The Sailors ran out the clock to remain unbeaten on the season and unbeaten in the past six games. Arvada is a Class 4A school, while Steamboat is a small Class 3A school, giving the Sailors their second-straight win against a much larger opponent.
Steamboat defeated Class 5A Aurora Central on Aug. 27.
The Reds were clearly the better of the two opponents Steamboat has faced this season. Arvada struck first when Rosales found 6-foot-4 tight end Sean Lofland for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 2:20 left in the first. The Reds added another score in the second quarter after blocking a Sailors' punt.
But Steamboat put a nice drive together before halftime. The 3:13 scoring drive ended with Hanley's 1-yard run. But the play before typifies this year's team, senior receiver Jack Serhant said.
With Hanley sprinting toward the right sideline, sophomore Nigel Hammond leveled his man downfield, freeing up more space for Hanley on the outside.
"This year, everyone cares about each other," Serhant said. "It's an unselfish team. If they ask us to block, we'll block."
Steamboat pulled to within 14-13 near the end of the third on Stillwell's 8-yard scoring pass to Stanko. A bad snap forced placekicker Ben DeLine to miss the extra point, keeping the Sailors behind.
Arvada's Kyle Rice returned the subsequent kick-off 95 yards for the score, swinging momentum back into his team's favor. Arvada's two-point conversion gave the Reds a 22-13 lead.
Three scores from the Sailors in the fourth quarter, however, sealed the win.
The first came at the 11:42 mark of the quarter on Stillwell's 18-yard quarterback keeper. Steamboat got a stop and added its second score when senior Zack Savage recovered a fumble in Arvada's end zone for the touchdown.
In the most bizarre play of the day, Arvada's long snapper sent the ball sailing over the punter's head into the end zone. On the subsequent chase to the ball, Rosales arrived first. Instead of falling on it or kicking it out of the end zone for the safety, Arvada's punter stood over the ball and did nothing.
Savage raced in, fell on the football, and got the touchdown. Stillwell ran in the conversion, giving Steamboat a 28-22 lead, its first of the game. DeLine added insurance points with a 26-yard field goal with 6:12 left in the game.
Steamboat's defense and its running game preserved the win.
Up next for the Sailors (2-0 overall) is an 8 p.m. showdown with Western Slope League foe Palisade on Friday at Stocker Stadium.
"We have to put a complete game together," Finch said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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