Steamboat Springs football team rallies late, beats Lutheran
October 26, 2012
Steamboat Springs — With a sly grin on his face, Lonn Clementson said there was not a sliver of doubt in his mind as he made the call.
Steamboat was playing with house money, and the third-year Steamboat Springs High School football coach figured, “What the heck?”
So on a frigid October night with 1 minute, 25 seconds left on the clock, down a point to playoff-bound Lutheran and with an extra-point opportunity, Clementson made the call of his head coaching career.
Steamboat lined up in an extra-point formation, snapped the ball, and holder Christian Ramirez pitched it over his left shoulder to Skyler Kauf, who had come around from the left side of the line. Kauf rolled around to the right on a run-pass option and found Mitch McCannon for a 2-point conversion and a 21-20 win.
"It was time," Clementson said. "It's at home. We're not going to the playoffs. We had a fantastic opportunity. … We wanted to go down swinging. Kids just grew up tonight."
It ended an improbable comeback in an improbable way. And in a game where offense and defense are given credit way too often, it was Steamboat's special teams that proved the difference.
The Sailors blocked two kicks, returned one for a touchdown and scored on the 2-point conversion.
"Our special teams have been good all year," Clementson said.
After a forgettable first half for both teams — 15 possessions between the two ended up in nine punts, four interceptions and two turnovers on downs — the second half provided more drama than you’ll likely see in the first quarter of Saturday's Colorado-Oregon game.
It started midway through the third, when Lutheran lined up for a 41-yard field goal. Ramirez — who came close to blocking a punt earlier — flew around the left side and blocked the Ryan Schoene kick. Nathan Parks picked it up and went 64 yards for a 7-0 lead.
"I was listening real hard for footsteps and made sure no one caught me," Parks said.
Lutheran (6-3) finally got it going, scoring on back-to-back Christian Versteeg touchdown runs to go up 14-7.
Steamboat answered early in the fourth with a 4-yard Mitch McCannon run, but a bad snap on the ensuing extra point left the Sailors down, 14-13.
The Lions put together a 12-play drive that chewed 6:37 off the clock, finishing with a 8-yard pass from James Willis to Joshua Clausen.
But Charles Toye blocked the extra point to keep it at 20-13.
Steamboat moved the ball inside Lutheran territory and Ramirez — seeing the safety had moved over the top of McCannon in the slot — found Kauf on a 32-yard fade to make it 20-19.
"They pulled that safety, and Skyler can beat anyone in this league 1-on-1," Ramirez said.
The decision to go for 2 was made before Steamboat's final drive. And what a decision it turned out to be.
"I know our mentality," Ramirez said. "Go big, or go home. We got excited when we heard the call."
Steamboat (4-5) has a chance to level its record next week. The team plays at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Delta.
"They became young men tonight," Ramirez said. "Every game you face adversity. This was a game where our young men went toe to toe with adversity and overcame it."
Steamboat 21, Lutheran 20
First Downs 10
Yards Passing 115
Total Yards 210
First Downs 11
Yards Passing 178
Total Yards 241
■ Score by quarters
■ Scoring summary
SS — 7:31, Nathan Parks 64 return. (Joe DeLine kick).
L — 4:14, Christian Versteeg 15 run. (Ryan Schoene kick).
L — 0:17, Versteeg 10 run. (Shoene kick).
SS — 9:37, Mitch McCannon 4 run. (Kick fail).
L — 3:00, Joshua Clausen 8 pass from James Willis. (Kick fail).
SS — 1:25, Skyler Kauf 33 pass from Christian Ramirez. (McCannon from Kauf).
■ Individual statistics
L: Christian Versteeg 21-82, 2 TD; Jamil Bond 2-0; Isaiah Bergner 3-5; Willis 3-(-17); Noah Halseth 3-(-10); Darian Perez 1-3.
S: Dylan Wilkinson 10-22; Nick Harris 4-25; McCannon 2-4, 1 TD; Ramirez 12-45; Ben Custer 1-(-1).
L: Willis 13-24-3, 178 yards, 1 TD.
S: Ramirez 10-21-1, 115 yards, 1 TD.
L: Clausen 6-58, 1 TD; Perez 1-17; Bergner 2-23; Versteeg 1-8; Taylor Murphy 3-72.
S: McCannon 4-24; Custer 2-13; Kauf 4-76, 1 TD.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com