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Pirates beat Centauri, big battle ahead

With fans of the Pagosa Springs Pirates treated to a mercifully brief game last Friday and a 47-7 blowout of their Centauri opponents, Coach Sean O’Donnell was nonetheless characteristically kind and sportsmanlike in complimenting the Falcons, saying, “They’re a better football team than what the score showed.”

Unfortunately for the Falcons, nothing seemed to work from the zero-mark. Choosing to receive in the second half, the Falcons had their opening kick run back by Tyson Ross for a touchdown.

Centauri was stymied in their attempt to put together a drive. After moving the ball for their only first down of the quarter, they were stalled at midfield and forced to punt. Making short order of the possession, the Pirates scored again when Ross connected with Zach Lucero on a 12-yard touchdown pass; Ross’ conversion put the Pirates up 14-0 with seven minutes, 42 seconds left in the quarter.

Stopping the Falcons cold again, the Pirates capitalized on their renewed possession with Ross rushing 17 yards for the score and, with the PAT good, the Pirates had a 21-0 lead with 5:42 left. Two minutes later, driving after a Mason Laverty interception, Dakota Miller took a 17-yard rush in for the touchdown, giving Pagosa a 27-0 advantage. Laverty produced again with just seconds left, taking a Ross pass 47 yards for the final touchdown for the quarter and with Ross good on the PAT, the Pirates went into the second quarter with a strong 34-0 advantage.

Unable to catch a break, the Falcons connected on a screen play, only to have the touchdown called back on a penalty and had their next pass picked off by Daniel Puskas. Holding on defense but not able to produce on offense, the Falcons nonetheless looked to keep the quarter scoreless. However, with 1:38 left in the half, Ross connected to Laverty in the end zone and, with the extra point good, the Pirates went into the second half with a 41-0 lead.

The Falcons faced an impossible battle, entering the second half with a rolling clock — per CHSAA football rules, a 40-point difference runs the clock (except for time-outs and injuries) — and little chance against the Pirates. Indeed, with 2:10 left in the third quarter, Miller took a short rush from the 3-yard line across the goal line, giving Pagosa a 47-0 lead. Although the Falcons managed a touchdown on a fourth-and-two situation with 5:45 left on the clock, it was not enough to stop the rolling clock or the Pirate’s momentum and Centauri took a very long ride home with a 47-7 defeat.

Philosophical, O’Donnell said, “Still, they played us 13-7 in three quarters of football.”

With a big win behind them, the Pirates play what could be the game of the season tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Golden Peaks Stadium as they face their conference rivals, the 7-1 Bayfield Wolverines.

“We’re playing the team everyone expected to be the league champs this year,” O’Donnell said. “They’ve really played well this season.”

In fact, Bayfield took its only loss thus far at the hands of league leader Buena Vista, 20-14 on Oct. 1. The Pirates lost 30-26 to Buena Vista on Oct. 8.

“It’s become a real rivalry the past few years,” O’Donnell said. “The kind of thing high school football is supposed to be about.”

In fact, a lot rides on tomorrow night’s game: either Bayfield or Pagosa could secure a playoff spot if they win tomorrow night. Furthermore, if Buena Vista loses to their rivals — the Salida Spartans (5-4), the winner of tomorrow night’s game would be league co-champions.

Nevertheless, co-champion status would only garner a No. 2 seed for tomorrow night’s winner in the post-season rankings as Buena Vista beat both the Pirates and the Wolverines this season.

Kickoff for the Pirates’ final game is at 6 p.m. for an evening forecasted to be clear and unseasonably warm (bundle up, though — this is Pagosa).