The chances were there.
When few people — aside from a group of dedicated Pagosa football players, coaches and fans — thought they would be.
Contrary to what a casual observer of the stats would have predicted, the Pirate football team was more than a match for the vaunted Platte Canyon Huskies last Saturday and was, in fact, in position to win the Class 2A quarterfinal playoff game at Bailey and move to the semifinals this weekend.
The Pirates staged an outstanding passing attack Saturday, but it proved to be not quite enough as Pagosa lost to Platte Canyon, 30-26.
Platte Canyon took the opening kickoff and started on their 35-yard line.
The Huskie offense drove for three first downs in 10 plays, strictly running. They drove the ball to the Pirate 35-yard line before surrendering possession to Pagosa.
Once the Pirates had the ball, quarterback Taylor Shaffer was sacked for a 7-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Mike Smith gained four yards on a run and the Pirates returned the ball to their hosts with Tyson Ross punting 40 yards to the Huskie 28.
Platte Canyon drove for two more first downs to the Pirate 33, at which point the first quarter ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Platte Canyon scored on a 36-yard run. The Huskies got two points on the point-after attempt, to take an 8-0 lead.
On the next series the Pirates tried some runs from their own 20-yard line, but made no first downs. On fourth down, Ross punted again, this time for 35 yards. There was no return.
The Huskie offense — one noted for its ability to overwhelm opponents — didn’t phase the Pirate D and the home team gained only one first down, on short runs.
On the next series, Pirate Paul Hoffman recovered a Huskie fumble, giving the Pirates a first down at the Platte Canyon 33.
Smith gained nine yards on two runs. Then, senior Joe DuCharme ran for five yards and a first down, to the Huskie 5-yard line.
Two plays later, the Pirates scored on a pass from Shaffer to Zach Lucero. Ross snagged a Shaffer pass on the point-after attempt to tie the game at 8-8 with just under five minutes left in the half.
That was enough time for Platte Canyon. The Huskies drove upfield and in five plays scored a touchdown, giving them a 16-8 lead. The two-point conversion failed.
And there was enough time left for Pagosa to operate. After the Pirates recovered a Huskie fumble near midfield, Shaffer passed 35 yards to DuCharme for the second Pirate touchdown. The Pirate PAT failed, and score was 16-14 in favor of Platte Canyon at the half.
The Pirates took the kickoff to start the second half. Smith gained two on a run and the Pirates had two incomplete passes. Ross punted 30 yards to the Platte Canyon 48-yard line.. Five plays later, Platte Canyon scored on a 5-yard run, giving the Huskies a 22-14 lead. The PAT kick was blocked by the Pirates.
Pagosa refused to surrender and made another rally, showing some effective offense and giving a hint of what would come. A pass from Shaffer to Ross was good for 30 yards and a first down in Platte Canyon territory.
Then, Smith ran for two, and Shaffer passed to Jordan Caler for seven. DuCharme gained four for a first down at the Platte Canyon 32. Smith added another 13 on the ground securing a first down at the 19. Two plays later, Shaffer ran for a first down at the 9-yard line, but four plays later the Pirates had gained only four yards and Platte Canyon took over on downs at their own 5-yard line.
In a quick turnaround, five plays later, the Pirates had the ball back on the opponent’s 25-yard line. On a halfback pass, DuCharme threw the ball to Caler for a touchdown and the Pirates had cut the lead to 22-20. The two point conversion try failed.
Minutes later (after a turnover by the home team) the Pirates were on the Huskie 31-yard line.
Smith ran for five and DuCharme gained a first down at the 22. On third down, a screen pass from Shaffer to Smith was good for six points.
The Pirates took a 26-22 lead. A run by Shaffer was short on the two point conversion play.
Platte Canyon, on the next series, earned two first downs on runs, but the Huskies fumbled the ball and the Pirates took over at the Pagosa 30-yard line. Pirate passes failed and the Pirates experienced trouble with a punt. Platte Canyon took over at the Pirate 36-yard line.
Two plays later, The Huskies scored on a run to take a 30-26 lead. On the next series of downs the Pirates could not move beyond their own 42-yard line.
With time running down, the Huskies gave the ball back to Pagosa, unable move beyond the Pirate 36.
Pagosa failed to move beyond the 30 yard line and at that point Platt Canyon took over with 1:19 minutes left in the game. Time ran off the clock.
At day’s end, Shaffer had completed 19 of 29 passing attempts, for 193 yards. The Pirate quarterback passed for three touchdowns.
Catching passes from Shaffer were Tyson Ross, six; Joe DuCharme, three; Paul Hoffman, two; Zach Lucero, two; Jordan Caler, three; Wes Laverty, two; also Cody Bowdridge and Mike Smith.
DuCharme ran for 48 yards on seven carries; Smith rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries.
DuCharme led the team in tackles with 12, followed by Ross with 10, Mike Smith with nine, Taylor Shaffer with nine and Cody Bowdridge with eight.
No other team had played Platt Canyon as close a game this year as did Pagosa.
“Our players were not intimidated by this team,” said Pirate Coach Sean O’Donnell. This was a well-fought battle. We just were not intimidated by them. They had a solid group of players and they found a way to win.
“There was a tremendous effort from our players,” said the coach. “Our seniors achieved more than people thought they would this season.”