Hayden rallies to beat Meeker, keeps postseason hopes alive | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden rallies to beat Meeker, keeps postseason hopes alive

— After giving up 27 first-half points, the Hayden Tigers needed a second-half rally to defeat the Meeker Cowboys, 39-27, and keep the team's hopes of a postseason berth alive for at least one more week.

"Great second half," Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "We knew that if we let them stay in this game it was going to be a dog fight."

The game was just that in the first half.

Hayden scored first on a 66-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mark Doolin. But Meeker's Sebastian Clarke ran 91 yards to the end zone on the ensuing kickoff to tie the game.

Hayden recovered with a nine-play drive capped by a 1-yard run by Ryan Domson, who rushed for 144 yards on 17 carries. The extra point failed, but Hayden was back on top, 13-7.

The rest of the first half belonged to Meeker.

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Clarke scored his second touchdown of the night on a 40-yard run and then added another in the second quarter to put the Cowboys up 21-13. Meeker's Nathan Walsh also hit wide out Kevin Eli to make the score 27-13 with just over two minutes left in the half.

But with the season on the line the Tigers came roaring back in the final minutes of the first half. Doolin, who rushed for 194 yards on 22 carries, completed a couple of passes and then scored on a 47-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers life at 27-19.

But Hayden's big break came on Meeker's first play in the second half. The Cowboys, who had not turned over the ball in three games, missed a pitch. The fumble came at the perfect time for the Tigers as Brentt Gabel recovered the ball at Meeker's 26-yard line. A few plays later Doolin scored to make it 27-25. The two-point conversion failed, but the Tigers were back in business.

"We played extremely well in the first half," Meeker coach Ron Dupree said. "Then we come out and fumble. They (Hayden) came back hard. They were hard to tackle, and they played well in the second half."

The Tigers defense, which had struggled to stop Meeker in the first half, came to life in the second. The Tigers kept the Cowboys out of the end zone and gave their offense a chance.

"Our defense stepped up and made plays in the second half when we needed them to and gave our offense a chance to get back in the game," Baumgartner said.

Domson scored to give the Tigers a 31-27 lead, and Doolin added the two-point conversion to put the home team up 33-27. Meeker drove to the Tigers 11-yard line on the next series, but Hayden's defense held on fourth down. Doolin put the game away a few plays later with a 53-yard touchdown run to make the final score 39-27.

"Now we have to go down to Leadville and beat Lake County," Hayden's Journey Vreeman said. "We really need to get after it this next game. Their line is bigger, and they hit harder than Meeker. I feel like we were a better team than Meeker, and hopefully, we are better than Lake County."

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