Hayden football downs Paonia, 27-21

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— Hayden High School football coach Shawn Baumgartner was thinking, “Not again.”

After multiple weeks of seeing victory in their arms, the Tigers kept falling short. But Friday, in Paonia, Hayden finally won that close game, 27-21.

The Tigers used a fourth-quarter touchdown by Ben Williams and two late stops inside their own 20 to come away with the win.

“It came down to the very end again, but we held on this time,” Baumgartner said. “We needed that win.”

Paonia went up, 7-0, early in the first quarter. Hayden responded with a Graig Medvesk touchdown to make it 7-7. Then, right before the half, Medvesk found Treyben Letlow for a 14-7 lead.

The Eagles came out on their first drive of the second half and scored on a 60-yard reverse to cut the score to 14-13.

Hayden’s Ryan Domson scored to make it 21-13 midway through the third, before Paonia scored and got the 2-point conversion to tie it up at 21. Williams scored on a 15-yard run in the fourth to make it 27-21.

Paonia got the ball inside the Hayden red zone but turned it over on downs. Hayden went three-and-out on its ensuing drive, but Letlow boomed a 52-yard punt to pin Paonia deep.

Still, the Eagles got inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line, but the Hayden defense again held.

“We finally won that close game,” Baumgartner said. “It was on the road and a league game. The kids were excited after that game. You could kind of see the air coming out of us this last week. Hopefully, this win erases that.”

Hayden finished the game with 316 yards rushing, including 143 from Williams and 131 from Medvesk. The win improves the Tigers to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the Class 1A Western Slope League.

The team next plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Rangely.

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