Hayden homecoming game the most competitive of the year
HAYDEN — On the new field for the first time, the Hayden High School football team played its most competitive game of the year. Gilpin County pulled ahead in the fourth quarter to earn a 44-30 victory on Friday.
The last few minutes of the first half were some of the most exciting of the night.
Hayden head coach Matt Linsacum used all three of his first-half timeouts to give his team a chance to prolong its drive. With about 45 seconds left, he called his last timeout and told his team to keep their energy up.
With 39 seconds left in the second quarter, Tigers senior Liam Frentress ran 35 yards to the end zone to put the Tigers on the board. Sophomore Brayden Dale dove across the goal line for the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 14-8. If that was all the Tigers mustered before the half, that would have been acceptable. But, they came up with more.
Hayden recovered Angel Valdez’s onside kick, giving the home team one more chance before heading into the locker rooms. Senior Kyler Campbell broke through the crowd and dashed 30 yards for the Tigers’ second touchdown in 14 seconds, tying the game at 14.
Frentress missed the end of the third quarter. The senior took a hard hit that left him staring at the fresh turf for a few minutes.
“I didn’t want to let my team down,” said Frentress. “They’re my family, everyone of them is my brother. If I was out, our momentum would shift. I knew I had to get back in.”
When he returned, the offense was jolted back to life. The socially-distanced crowd cheered from the shiny, new bleachers as Frentress ate away at the field with massive runs before scoring his second touchdown of the night. Murphy caught the two-point conversion pass. With 6:02 left to play, Hayden trailed 28-22.
“All my guys up front were working their butts off. It starts with them. That’s how I get my big runs,” said Frentress. “I really want to appreciate them because a lot of people overlook them.”
Frentress, Campbell and all the seniors played hard knowing it was last home game, the first game on the new field, and the homecoming game.
“We have that senior leadership and people rally around that,” said Linsacum. “We can’t depend on one person. Having him come back, you could immediately feel that momentum come back. It’s nice to have that leadership, but we do need to learn to fight without that.”
Three goal line stops prevented the Eagles from stretching their early 14-0 lead. Hayden seniors Hunter Slowik and Kyler Campbell each tackled an Eagle player feet from the end zone.
The defensive efforts continued in the second half, as senior Wyatt Murphy intercepted a pass intended for senior Blake Boulter and Tiger senior Andrew Kleckler collected a fumble. Neither resulted in a Tigers score.
The offense had a few shining moments, but ultimately couldn’t generate the big plays that allowed them to score earlier.
On fourth and long, early in the fourth, Dale dropped back. The lefty was still able to get a throw off, finding Campbell at the line of scrimmage. Campbell stayed standing through not just one attempted tackle, but two. Despite his best efforts, Campbell was just shy of the first down.
Hayden travels to Oak Creek to play Soroco next Friday in the season finale.
Gilpin County 44, Hayden 30
GC – Stephen King fumble recovery, conversion no good, 7:58
GC – Blake Boulter 1 rush, 1 rush, 4:15
H – Liam Frentress 35 rush, Brayden Dale rush, 0:39
H – Kyler Campbell 30 rush, conversion no good, 0:15
GC – Stephen King 48 rush, conversion no good, 1:15
GC – King 40 rush, Boulter rush, 9:04
H – Frentress 3 rush, Wyatt Murphy pass from Brayden Dale, 6:02
GC – King 60 rush, Boulter rush, 2:04
GC – King interception return, Boulter rush, 1:14
H – Murphy 35 pass from Dale, Dale rush 0:45
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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