STEAMBOAT SPRINGS(9/20/13) – Facing what appeared to be another offensive juggernaut a week after holding third-ranked Rifle 45 points under its two-game scoring average, the Glenwood Springs defense was up to the task in a 37-10 win at Steamboat Springs.
The Sailors (2-2, 1-2 Western Slope League) had piled up 94 points in back-to-back wins, but were literally chased down at every offensive turn and held to a Joe Deline field goal until Mitch McCannon scored his twelfth touchdown of the season midway through the fourth quarter. In the interim, Henry Hill scored three touchdowns, including a 45-yard punt return, Derrick Chase had four sacks, and the Sailors’ talented sophomore quarterback Zach Holm, who had thrown 6 TDs and attempted 46 passes in 14 quarters without an interception this season, was picked off twice.
“This is the best I’ve seen our offense in maybe two years,” guard-linebacker and senior co-captain Garrett Lowe said after the Demons (1-3, 1-2) earned their first win after showing incremental improvement through a top-ten ranked three-game gauntlet. The Demons rushed for 270 yards, with Hill, who left the Rifle game early in the fourth quarter with a hand injury, topping the century mark for the first time in 2013, gaining 170 yards in 25 carries, good for two touchdowns. Hill had been used sparingly (10-to-15 carries) as Glenwood repeated its 2012 start in losing to Conifer (14-0), Palisade (34-18), and Rifle (13-7) to start the season.
“It was good to get in the end zone finally,” Hill said. “The line deserves all the credit — they opened seams, and I could pick where I wanted to go.”
Hill rushed for 15 yards in 3 attempts on the Demons’ opening possession, but an incompletion on 3rd and ten forced a punt. The defense had an inauspicious start, committing two penalties that kept the chains moving on Steamboat’s first drive, but a 10-yard sack by Chase and freshman linebacker Dante Sparaco halted the Sailors with a 4th down flat pass coming up short of a first down at the Demon 33.
Hill went right to work behind the line of Lowe, Cristian Gonzalez, Robert Hiles, Matt Townsley, center Sam Carmer, and tight end Justin Barham. The senior back, in pursuit of his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season, hit the right sideline and sprinted 45 yards to the Sailor 22. Travis Lundin passed 10 yards to Barham and Hill finished the 4-play, 67-yard drive that consumed one minute, with a 9 yard burst for his first TD, and Glenwood’s first lead, of the season. Hiles’ extra point kick made it 7-0 with 3:56 to play in the opening quarter.
Hill quickly doubled the advantage, after Steamboat went 3-and-out, taking Deline’s punt 45 yards to the end zone. Hiles booted the PAT with 2:16 remaining, and added a 23-yard field goal on Glenwood’s first possession of the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.
The Sailors got on the scoreboard after a 4th-down snap sailed over Glenwood punter Chase Nieslanik’s head, nearly to the Demon end zone. Nieslanik ran it down and managed to still get off a punt, but Steamboat took over at the 13. The defense was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball half-the-distance to the goal line, but six tries later, the Sailors had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Deline, whose brothers, Ben and Steve, both kicked for CSU with Steve reaching the NFL.
For the game, the Demon-D held Steamboat to just 160 net yards, including only 34 yards passing, an interception by Cole Adams before halftime, and Carmer’s 65-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. “They worked hard in practice,” defensive coach Joe Luetke said after the game, “with everyone doing their assignments.”
Hill scored his third touchdown of the game on the Demons’ initial second-half possession, concluding an 8-play, 45-yard drive with a three-yard run at the 7:05 mark.
Carmer’s pick came when Chase and Sparaco belted Holm one play after Chase had recorded his 4th sack of the game. The touchdown, with Hiles improving to 6-for-6 on extra point kicks, came with 1:45 left in the third and made the score 31-3.
Chase also had some fun on offense, breaking a 61-yard run in the fourth quarter before scoring his third touchdown in three games from the 12 yard line. He finished with 88 yards in 5 carries. Lundin was 4-of-11 for just 22 yards passing, but did not throw an interception or go down for a sack for the first game this season.
So far, Glenwood’s season has mirrored last year’s when they just missed the playoffs, winning 4 of their last six after a 1-3 start. However, they face a tough test in their Homecoming game next week in 3-1 Delta, which has rolled over its two WSL foes, 35-14 at Eagle, and defeating Moffat County, 53-7, Friday. But as co-captain Barham said in a post-game interview, “This starts the rest of the season for us.”