A big win in the cold

Hayden shuts out Meeker to secure playoff berth

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Game statistics

Hayden Meeker

17 First Downs 4

59-309 Rushes-Yards 26-71

0-0-0 Comp-Att-Int 2-7-0

0 Yards Passing 15

309 Total Yards 86

1-29 Punts-Avg. 4-33.5

0-0 Fumbles-lost 1-0

2-15 Penalties-Yards 3-15

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Hayden 07-07-07-00-21

Meeker 00-00-00-00-0

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

H 4:53, Brandon Ford 1 run. (Aaron Haskins kick good).

Second Quarter

H 9:01, Russell Waugh 2 run. (Haskins kick good).

Third Quarter

H 2:36, Coy Letlow 2 run. (Haskins kick good).

Fourth Quarter

None

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

H: Letlow 29-127, 1 TD; Waugh 11-88 1 TD; Ford 18-85, 1 TD; Mitchel Doolin 1-9.

M: Kurtis Dunbar 15-49; Joe LeBlanc 4-18; Mick Mobley 3-6; Tyler Matriciano 4 (-2).

Passing

H: Doolin 0-0-0 0 yards.

M: Matriciano 1-4-0 8 yards; LeBlanc 1-3-0 7 yards

Receiving

H: None

M: Dunbar 1-8; Matriciano 1-7.

— Hayden running back Russell Waugh said he knew going into Meeker would be a "life or death," scenario. Both teams were tied for second place in the Western Slope League standings and the game's winner would lock a guaranteed spot in the Class 1A playoffs. The loser would have to put their fate in the hands of a selection committee.

Waugh helped ensure his team's fate on Friday night as part of Hayden's effective three-pronged running attack with Coy Letlow and Brandon Ford.

Exclusively relying on this rushing trio, Hayden (8-1, 5-1 in league play) ran for more than three hundred yards to beat Meeker (6-3, 4-2) in a 21-0 shut-out.

"Our defense came out hitting," Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "(Meeker back) Dunbar is a hard runner who's difficult to wrap up, but when we needed it, they got him."

Hayden burned more than seven minutes on the clock with a 16-play, 80-yard opening drive. Coy Letlow warmed up the bundled corps of visiting Hayden fans, sparking the drive with a quick 14-yard pick-up. Meeker's Marcus Kindall stopped Letlow and Waugh to put Hayden at third and 17, but Brandon Ford answered with a pair of runs that converted a key fourth down to keep the drive going. Ford then capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up.

"What a great drive - we pounded it in and set the tone," Baumgartner said.

The Hayden defense then closed the door on Meeker's reply, forcing them to punt after three plays.

Waugh returned the punt 20 yards to set Hayden up in easy midfield position. The Tigers went for it again on fourth as Letlow broke through the Cowboys' line for a 16-yard carry that set up Waugh on the Cowboys' goal-line.

Dunbar pounded the ball to help Meeker come back with a string of first downs, but Hayden kept Meeker out of its half of the field. Tigers' linebacker Dave Gullett forced the Cowboys to punt after a sack on a crucial Cowboys' third down.

Up 14-0 half time, Letlow opened the third quarter with a sack of his own to help put a quick end to the Cowboys' drive.

From its own 37-yard line, Hayden drove on a series of Letlow first downs as the home town fans began yelling advice to the Meeker coaches regarding how many men they should put on the defensive line.

The cheers of "Hit 'em - Hard!" did little to enable Meeker from keeping Letlow out of the end zone.

"We just didn't come out with the fire we normally do," said Meeker senior quarterback Joe LeBlanc.

Sitting the bench for much of the game, due to "disciplinary actions," LeBlanc came in for sophomore starter Tyler Matriciano in the end of the third quarter to give the Cowboys a much-needed offensive spark. LeBlanc moved the Cowboys into their best position of the evening, inside the Tigers' 30-yard line. But with a big third-down tackle by Aaron Haskins, the Tigers defense turned them down.

The Meeker defense shut down a final Hayden scoring opportunity after a Waugh 46-yard run put Hayden in prime red zone position.

Kneeling the ball to close out the fourth quarter clock, the Tigers exploded in cheers, celebrating a win that gives them the league co-championship.

Hayden finds out on Sunday the time, location and opponent of its first-round playoff game.

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