Friday, September 30, 2005
Steamboat Springs Ben DeLine called it the biggest kick of his life.
Staring at the uprights and the possibility of a fifth overtime, the sophomore placekicker drilled the point-after attempt through the posts, giving the Steamboat Springs football team a 31-30 victory against Montezuma-Cortez on Friday night.
"I knew as long as I had my stroke and did what I wanted, I knew it was going in," DeLine said.
Westin Cofer set up the winning kick with a 10-yard touchdown run on the Sailors' first possession in the fourth overtime. Justin Howard, Lane Shipley, Vince Grippa and Jace Bonner ripped a 5-yard hole open for Cofer to run through for the score.
Earlier, on Cortez's fourth-overtime possession, Caleb Hermann caught a 10-yard pass from Darren Wayman on their team's first possession. A bad snap on the PAT forced holder Bryan Kop to scramble, and Bonner dragged Kop down near the sideline, setting up Steamboat's shot to win.
For those counting at home, Steamboat (5-1 overall, 3-1 in league) has played six overtimes in the last seven days -- four on Friday and two against Moffat County on Sept. 23 -- winning both games. The Friday win was Steamboat's fourth come-from-behind victory in five games.
"I hate doing that," said senior Walker Hammond about how the Sailors win games.
That's good news to coach Aaron Finch, who said he was pleased with the win but far from satisfied with the team's play.
After building a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter on two touchdowns from Scott Stanko, Steamboat fumbled the ball five times, forcing its defense to save the game.
"I think offensively we saw what we can do," Finch said. "We just couldn't hold on to the football."
But the Panthers managed just three points off Sailor turnovers because Steamboat's defense responded nearly every time, particularly when Cortez was in Steamboat territory. Those three points came on kicker Brayden Hacket's game-tying 26-yard field goal with 3:24 left in the game.
"I thought we dominated the second half," Cortez coach Tom Adair said. "We played great and came to win."
Adair said he could feel the momentum rock back and forth between sidelines. Cortez had it going into the first overtime and got a touchdown on a 4-yard keeper from quarterback Darren Wayman. Hacket knocked the PAT through.
Steamboat answered on quarterback Tanner Stillwell's 2-yard run on its possession. DeLine knocked the PAT through.
Then, things got interesting. In high school overtime, each team starts 10 yards out and is given one set of downs to score.
Hammond fumbled the ball on the 2-yard line, giving Cortez the ball in the second overtime. The Panthers got conservative, and Hacket missed a 28-yard field goal to send the game into a third.
"We were wanting to keep the ball in the middle of the field," Adair said. "He's a good kicker. We just didn't get a good snap."
Stanko picked off Jody Garner's halfback pass in the third overtime, giving Steamboat's offense the chance to close out the game.
Finch immediately sent DeLine out to the field to attempt the game-winning 27-yard field goal. An illegal motion penalty moved DeLine back 5 yards, but still well within his range. The Panthers Tim Halper blocked the field goal, sending the game into a fourth overtime.
"We hadn't had one blocked all year," Finch said about his decision to kick immediately. "We ran the risk of a turnover or doing something wrong."
The decision didn't matter.
"That was awesome," Adair said of the four-overtime game. "I told my players you can't beat that. ... I wish we could have won it."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org